2018 – Feliz Ano Novo

Here are the viewing figures for SIL in 2017.

Here is the map showing where the views came from. I assume many of those from places I have never had the privilege to visit are from English people working abroad, but who knows.

At the moment, I am working out how to grow chives and bok choy. Both of these are cold-season. The trouble is we don’t do cold-season on the Algarve.

Moving on, 2018 is nearly here.

Feliz ano novo.



ATP – 21 Dec 2017 – grand openings

The weather improved a lot on 30 Dec 2017, and it was like a very pleasant Spring day with bags of sunshine, so our family played outside in our garden.

We had the opening of our new boule pitch, plus of course the first couple of games.

Then we had the opening of our neto’s (grandchildren’s) new vegetable patch. We have planted cucumbers (pepinos), carrots (cenouras), coriander (coentro) and some flowers called cravo da índia.

I am not a gardener, so I haven’t got a clue whether anything will grow or not. We should find out in about a fortnight if we have had any success.

I thought I recognised the word cravo. It is the word carnation in Portugal’s 1974 carnation revolution. Cravo da Índia is cloves, with a long history behind it.

I just thought my neto was planting some pretty flowers, when actually it means cloves.


In the new year, I will get around to doing a Portuguese word per day that relates to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. But today I want to cheat and give you not one, but 26 words of Portuguese in a tour of the alphabet. Can you guess what they are in English?

Abril [On 25 April 1974, the Armed Forces movement overthrew the 48-year dictatorship of Salazar. Red carnations in gun barrels symbolise this event. And that is why there is a Rua 25 de Abril in every town in Portugal.]


Capricórnio. [This started on 22 Dec 2017].








K. My little dictionary only has 5 words beginning with K, but they all are in use in English. Have a guess at ‘kit’.








Sal [If in need of help, add a ‘t’ to the end].


Usar. Words ending in -ar, -er and -ir, are probably verb infinitives, to do something. What could usar be about doing?


W does not exist in native Portuguese, so I have got a choice of just 3 words. What do you think ‘whisky’ might mean?


Y The letters K, W, and Y do not exist in normal Portuguese, except in proper names.


My cravo da Índia is Syzygium aromaticum. How you pronounce this without a ‘y’ is beyond me.


Bico. This is the Portuguese equivalent of an espresso. It is small, black, and very,very powerful. You usually have a small nibble that is savoury or sweet to go with it. At the moment, I am indulging in a present from Christmas – Turkish delight.


This is still the old high street. It is one of two local cafés. I have only lived here since September, and already 2 proprietors have packed up in this establishment and gone elsewhere.

Someone asked our grand-children where they lived. They said Portelas. “Ah, the place where the electricity goes off!”

I am up to 4 months in Portelas and the power has gone off at least 12 times so far. I am researching where we can buy a generator.

ATP – 12 Dec 17 – village high street


You already know that e (pronounced ee) means and. What of é?

‘é’ is an extremely important word. It comes from the verb ser (to be), and it means ‘he is’, ‘she is’, ‘it is’ or ‘you are’. Pick the appropriate translation using context. Google does not do context, so you are better than Google. ‘é’ is pronounced ‘eh’.


As we approach Christmas, the food in shops tends to get more universal, the type of produce sold in supermarkets throughout the world. But I want to keep trying to bring you a take on Portugal and the Algarve.

On the plot next door are 3 houses, with 3 generations – grandfather, children, grandchildren. The grandfather is an affable man who strolls around his plot and the village. He nods at me and I say ‘bom dia, senhor. (good day, sir). He speaks not a single word of English.

His cat comes into our garden, and the cat has become my friend. It is black and white and only has one eye. I practise my Portuguese on the cat, but of course, it cannot talk back. So I asked the grandfather the name of the cat, using my mini-Portuguese. After a bit of thought he told me it was ‘meal-you’ (which could be French, Portuguese or English).

My effort seemed to please him, because when he had finished pottering in the garden, he came back and gave me two lettuces and two radishes (rabanetes).

You can make salad anywhere in the world, but here is Portelas tuna salad.

Go to your garden and cut a fresh lettuce. Dig up a rabanete. That’s the long carrot-shaped vegetable on the left. Yes, that’s what a radish looks like on the Algarve. Add some chopped onion, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. Season with garlic (alho), salt, pepper and olive oil. Layer the top with tuna.

It could not be easier, as long as your garden grows lettuce and Portuguese radish in mid-winter, as per the Algarve.


The street that we live on is very narrow. Bits of its are just one car wide so you have to know your passing places. It took me a long time to work out that we live on what was the old high street. I would guess it dates back to the days of horse and cart.

The old high street had 4 main buildings. There was a café/bar (not in the photo). Then there was the post office, the large building on the extreme left of the photo.

In the middle, now being converted, was the padaria, the baker’s shop.

On the right, with the red stripe, was the lavanderia, the laundry. I have still to find out if this was what I think of as a laundry, or whether it was simply a lavadeira, a woman who lived by doing your washing in her home.

This picture was taken from the high street ‘square’. It has a little bit more width than the street, for car parking to access the facilities, plus a couple of now-decrepit benches under a shady tree, where presumably the menfolk of the village once sat and talked. The person who buys the padaria has the option of adopting these benches i.e. the local council wants someone else to refurbish them.

ATP – 10 Dec 17 – grandson’s Christmas


Garlic = o alho. (al-you). Alho is put into most savoury dishes in Portugal. I can remember an incident when we were sitting alfresco in a restaurant in Luz, and a lady at the table next to us wanted chicken, but she wanted it without garlic. It took several attempts before the waiter finally understood that the lady did not like garlic.



This is a news story that the Maritime Police have hauled in gang for taking 630kg of Japanese clams from the Tejo (Tagus, the river that runs through Lisbon).

On one of our early visits to Portugal, we went to Olhão (a large fishing port on the eastern Algarve). The guide book said one particular restaurant was highly recommended. We found the place and ordered clams. We asked what goes with clams. Errm, um, err, chips? So we had clams and chips. Delicious!

The restaurant moved, the chef moved, and the clams never quite hit that perfection again.

Clams are extremely cheap in Portugal. You need about 500g to 600g per person, because most of the weight is shell. You don’t eat them with a knife and fork. You pick up the clam with your hands and suck the contents out.

First, take your clams and give them a good scrub, to get rid of sand. Then plonk them in fresh water, so they spit out any sand they have ingested. Do this 2 or 3 times, unless you enjoy eating grit. You need to cycle them in cold water for about an hour.

Clams are delicately flavoured, so please keep quantities of the following down. A little bit of chopped garlic (alho). A little bit of finely chopped onion. A tiny bit of parsley or coriander. To turn the stock brown, which is what we had our first time, add a little bit of chorizo or some finely chopped mushroom.

Now that everything is prepared, you need to put a little olive oil into a big pan that has a lid. Under a medium heat, fry the onion for a few minutes, add the chorizo or mushroom and the garlic, and continue to fry.

From here, it is your choice. I prefer to put a small amount of boiling water into the pot. Others prefer a half bottle of white wine.

Into the pot go the clams. Seal the lid so that it takes 5 minutes to steam the clams. Throw in the parsley or coriander.

Hopefully you either made chips while the clams were cleaning, or you have nice fresh bread, because the jus is absolutely delicious. Enjoy!


My grandson was taken to Portimão yesterday to see Star Wars 8. As my grandson is 7 years old now, perhaps he will remember the trip to the film, and perhaps not.

I hope he will have a different memory of his first Christmas in Portelas. At his school they have a garden, where the children grow whatever it is they grow. We are constructing a vegetable patch in our garden. This is not meant to be a serious attempt to feed our family. It is intended to fire a 7-year-old’s imagination.

This is a photo from when the work started.

Our vegetable patch is on schedule to open on Christmas Day.

Feliz Natal!

ATP – 8 Dec 17 – work in progress


Up to 10 people have been charged with homicide by negligence over the 66 deaths at the forest fire in Pedrógão Grande in the middle of 2017.


There are two words in Portuguese that are very important, and which look almost identical. They are ‘e’ and ‘é’. You tell them apart be cause one has an acute accent while the other doesn’t, plus they sound different.

Today’s word is ‘e’ (no accent) pronounced ‘ee’, meaning ‘and’.

My mini-Portuguese draws on a children’s book called ‘Os Cinco e o colar de pérolas’. By now, micro-Portuguese has already broken this down into ‘The Cinco and the necklace of pearls’, which is a lot of progress for just 8 days.


Caldo verde means green soup, and it is particularly simple as it is mainly potatoes and kale.

Boil potatoes in a little water and oil. Add a chicken stock cube. Add the kale, cut into strips. If you want, add some smoked sausage. Paprika will do if you are vegetarian. Blend the result. Serve with quality bread. How easy does it get?


We are working on 3 projects for a fun first Christmas in Portelas. This is the beginning of our boule patch. It needs a lot more weeds cleared off, but this one is the most likely of the 3 to be in place on Christmas Day.

ATP – 6 Dec 17 – the local baker

Today’s theme is local life, so I want to post about the local baker. That is going to be a challenge, because there isn’t one any more.


The word for ‘the’ in Portuguese illustrates the way the Portuguese language works.

‘The’ in basic terms is ‘o’ for masculine words and ‘a’ for feminine words.

Then it get more complex. First you have to know about plurals, when ‘o’ and ‘a’ match up by tacking an ‘s’ on the end to become ‘os’ and ‘as’. The nearest I can think of in English is ‘them’, though ‘os’ and ‘as’ simply mean ‘the’.

I have already covered that ‘the’ can combine with ‘de’ to make do, da, dos, das (‘of the’ or ‘from the’), but ‘o’ and ‘a’ do much more besides.

This is far too complicated for micro-Portuguese. All you need is that ‘o’ and ‘a’ in Portuguese mean ‘the’.


The one that I have picked today is rated as difficult, takes 120mins, and feeds six. But I am going to give you a much simplified version, taking much less time, and scaled down to a single portion.

The reason for picking this is I’ve only just found out we live on what was once the main street of the village. There is or was a post office, long since closed and now in decay. There was a lavandaria, a washing-house, now done up as a nice Portuguese cottage. In between these two was a padaria, a baker’s shop. I have only just found out it was a padaria. This is in the process of being converted into a 2.5 bedroom home, plus an annexe.

When I arrived here I was ill, for 50 days non-stop. That is a shame because I wish I had taken photos of the padaria on my arrival. It is now quite a long way through the restoration process, so it is hardly recognisable any more.

But just as we have been told we cannot put any structure whatsoever into our massive garden, there is also a restriction on the padaria. It is not permitted to remove the baker’s oven. I have had a tour round the outside, never saw an oven, and never twigged it was once the local bakery.

This brings me to today’s recipe, which is fresh bread, fish (cod), kale, tomatoes and spring greens.

The way it is made properly involves scooping the centre out of a Grandma’s loaf. That is one of the easier steps, so just stick to the basics. Defrost some frozen bacalhau (cod), retaining the liquor. The tomatoes should be peeled and deseeded. You may want all the usual suspects, like garlic, but this one also has ginger and paprika! The mix is meant to be cooked with the hollowed out bread, the fish stock and cod, the tomatoes and the greens. Simply fry the cod, greens and tomatoes, and add the stock and reserved bread and simmer gently, then serve with fresh bread.


My little neck of the woods just got a lot more interesting when I realised we live on what was once the village high street. That is two large café/bars, one post office, one washing-house, and one baker’s. Here is the work-in-progress on the baker’s. I watched them refurb the roof. I saw them replace the antique windows with double glazing. But this photo interests me.

Two men dug up the local manhole. Then they put new cement everywhere, to fix it. Then the câmara was called, and a big truck turned up. I think they were flushing the excess concrete out of the drainage system. The two guys in the background appear to be digging a new drain from the bakery to the repaired manhole cover.

ATP- 5 Dec 17 – Supermoon

3 Dec 17 was a Supermoon, aka a Hunters’ Moon and a Beaver Moon. Allegedly because under such moons hunters would set traps for beavers. This sound highly unlikely, as Supermoons are rare, but it is a nice story. More on Supermoons later.


De (pronounced day) means ‘of’ or ‘from’.

It combines with other words to make do, da, dos, das, which all mean ‘of the’ or ‘from the’, but don’t worry about those for micro-Portuguese.

De is extremely common in Portuguese, because Portuguese does not have an apostrophe (‘). English uses an ‘ as a shortcut all the time – John’s book, Maria’s baby, Bert’s café. Portuguese has no ‘, so it has to use the word ‘of’ very frequently – book of John, baby of Maria, café of Bert.

The layer on top of this is ‘from’. Where are you from? I’m from Portelas.

So you see ‘de’ meaning ‘of’ or ‘from’ is one of the most common words in Portuguese.


Portuguese Christmas tree.

Take 2 pancakes (tortillas). Spread one with pesto, then sprinkle grated cheese on top. Plonk the other tortilla on top to seal the filling. Then cut out a tree shape, and a star or two. Discard the excess.

Next, slit the branches on either side, but leave the trunk intact. Then curl each branch to make it look festive. Brush the tree and star with egg, and bake it in the oven at 190°C for 10 to 12 minutes, until it is golden.

Decorate with a few cherry tomato halves for red, and a sprig or two of basil for the green.


It was a Supermoon on 3 Dec 2017. That is a combination of a full moon, and the time at which the moon is closest to the Earth, so it looks larger than normal. It seems we will get another Supermoon in a month from now, and that is going to be it for decades. It will not return for years on end.

Here is my photo of the Supermoon rising near Portelas.

If you are unimpressed by this , so am I. The night sky here is wonderfully clear. What is your sign of the Zodiac? I am Aquarius, and I hope over the coming year to get a decent view of all of the constellations. My current camera skills are just not up to this challenge, so I need to find a way of doing better. In 2018, I want to bring you every sign of the Zodiac.