ATP- 3 Dec 2017 – doner kebab to be banned

News today. It seems the European Union will soon vote to ban the doner kebab, on the basis that the lamb meat contains too high a level of phosphates. I eat a doner kebab perhaps once every 5 years, so why someone wants to regulate my phosphate levels by law eludes me.


The word ‘feliz’ means happy or lucky. So Feliz Natal means Merry Christmas. Easy!


Tagliatelle with chestnuts and bacon. This is also easy. You need two pots, one to boil the tagliatelle, and one to fry the chestnuts and bacon.

Peel and chop the chestnuts. Dice the bacon. Chop up a little bit of celery and onion. If you want it Portuguese, put in a small amount of finely chopped garlic. OK. Heat olive oil in the frying pan, and throw everything in. It’s a quick fry, so make sure your tagliatelle is nearly cooked, because it it going into the same pan as the chestnuts and bacon for some flavour. The leaves from a sprig of rosemary add a delightful garnish.


This is a Hunters’ Moon. The moon does not go around the Earth in a circle. Sometimes it gets far away, and sometimes, like now, it gets very close. A combination of a full moon plus very close is rare. We had one tonight. There will be another one a month from now. The one after that is decades into the future.

This is the Hunters’ Moon, rising today just east of Portelas. It appears to be larger than usual, but because my little camera does not do eye-quality photographs, this is the best I could do.


Madeleine – The Magnificent Six – introduction

It may look as if my blog is a bit quiet at the moment, but in reality I am working hard on a number of different ideas, including a ‘special’ for the 11th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance. This may be 6 months away, but there’s an awful lot of fact-checking and photo-gathering to be done before then. The 11th anniversary is a complete clash with an anniversary that is much more important to me, and I’m busy working on that one too.

The Magnificent Six is not simply a list of resources concerning the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. I use Pamalam a lot for the PJ Files, and a couple of well-known forums, but none of these features in The Magnificent Six. And I’m sure there is more than one worthy person who will not get a mention.

So what is/are The Magnificent Six?

This is a bunch of people who, in my opinion, have raised public understanding above and beyond the PJ Files, using a combination of effort, expertise, and ‘specialist’ skills. These people know a great deal more about the case than, for example, most media people involved in covering the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. And that is even when the better informed media teams are backed up by decent research teams.

What The Magnificent Six is not is some sort of organised group or a network of people co-operating on the case. Each of the Six goes his or her own way, and views on what might have happened are as diverse as the people making up the Six.

The common denominators are simple. An interest in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. An ability to converse in English. A willingness to do a lot of donkey work. An ability to make 2 + 2 = 4.

What I intend doing with The Magnificent Six is to bring you a small pen-portrait of each. This is harder than it sounds, because I want to wash out personal details that I have gleaned along the way. I do not research people’s personal backgrounds. I prefer to evaluate their contribution solely based on the quality of their contribution. However, I have gained an insight into the personal life of most if not all of The Magnificent Six, so there is a bit of an evaluation to make to discriminate between what The Six make public, and that which they would prefer to keep private.

Come back soon, because I will start on the easiest of The Magnificent Six to describe. That would be me, as I know what I am happy to make public, and what I would prefer to keep to myself.

Would you like to see the Farm of The Poppy? That’s where I live now. It is fast approaching the day of the poppy, so of course I’m active on that front too.

Madeleine v Clouds

I got interested in clouds when looking at various photos and videos of the time shortly before and shortly after Madeleine McCann disappeared.

I was trying to work out if you can determine anything from them, absolutely anything, about the weather.

Wind direction and speed is the one that really fires me up, but how about location, date, time of day, sun position, temperature, and of course clouds.

Here is today’s piccy of the clouds across Portelas.

I thought “It’s going to rain”, so I scuttled about trying to sort everything necessary out before the downpour. Except it didn’t rain. The clouds have disappeared and we now have a pristine blue sky.

This tells you how much I know about how the weather works.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now” Joni Mitchell.

Portelas v Bonfire Night

I have two small grandchildren, one aged 6 and one aged 2. As far as I know, they have never had a Bonfire Night. So I have been conducting experiments.

Keep in mind it has been bone dry in the Algarve. We have had just one 20 minute downpour in the last 8 months or so, otherwise not a drop of rain.

Further north in Portugal, it went from disastrous forest fires in the dry to flooding monsoons in the wet, so Portugal is mixed. But the Algarve itself is parched, as dry as it gets.

So a bonfire is a bit of a tricky challenge, and bearing this in mind I have carried out a couple of tests. Both were on my barbecue, which is very small and located well away from our actual home. Plus I had lots of water on hand, in case things got too lively.

Test #1 was with hay. Our meadow got mowed perhaps 4 months back and there is lots of stubble drying out under the hot sun. This experiment did not go well. The stubble burned well, but it gave off enough smoke to choke all our neighbours. So it will not be a hay bonfire.

Test #2 was with pine tree detritus. We had a line of pine trees down one side of the plot. They were ugly, and getting out of control. So our resident woodchopper went out and woodchopped, and most of them have been cut back. This left a lot of bits, ends and pieces lying on the ground, and these have dried out. That means they are dry trees stuffed with pine resin.

Test #2 was also a failure. The pine tree cuttings went up like rocket fuel. There was little smoke this time but my little barbecue looked like Dante’s Inferno. I cannot try that experiment on a larger scale.

Also I cannot get fireworks here. That’s not a problem as I don’t fancy having to chase around my neighbours’ gardens making sure nothing is burning.

So I am moving on to plan B. I need to check out if anyone in the area is doing an official bonfire/fireworks for 5 Nov, because it looks like we will not be doing anything in-house.

Portelas v Venus

This is a photo of our garden in Portelas, taken around dawn a few days ago.

Our land backs onto acres of farmland, then in in the distance on the hills sits a set of uninspiring blocks of flats. They are the orange blobby things on the horizon. The N125 from Lagos to Odiáxere runs just the other side of those hills.

The orange illuminating the flats comes from street lights. We also have orange street lights, but they are at the front of the house. Here, at the rear, we have kilometres of zero street lights before those flats. Not quite perfect darkness, but the best I have seen in my life.

And that is why I could use my little camera to take a photo of Venus, which is is the tiny white blob in the middle of the picture.

The larger orange layer is due to the fact that the sun was emerging from the horizon to our east. Probably at this time of year it is east-south-east, or similar. But as I am not an astronomer, I will not quibble.

Indeed, I had to look up on the Internet that the brightest object in the sky, after the Sun and Moon, was Venus. Otherwise I was just looking at a bright white blob. Now I know the blob as Venus.

I won’t be doing a great deal of astronomy. I don’t have the kit for it, and unfortunately I don’t have the eyes any more. But as this better than average view is now available, I might as well get some use out of it.

Madeleine v Algarve soil

Here is the second of two attempts to dig a hole in the Algarve by purely human effort.

On this occasion, the requirement was to dig a small channel to fit a tiny pipe to repair our irrigation system. We’ve got water, we’ve got pipes, we’ve got a garden and we have fruit trees. But the odd pipe is broken and needs to be replaced.

Bear in mind the June 2014 dig by Operation Grange in central Luz. That was fantasy. This is reality. It is a miniscule trench that was dug into soil which was heavily watered beforehand to soften it up.

This is roughly what you can dig by hand on the Algarve, based on a lot of sweat, a lot of time, and a lot of noise. A channel to fit a small irrigation tube.

This ‘trench’ was dug by someone who is – as young as Smithman – physically fit – and who had plenty of peace and quiet to muscle through it. The result is a channel where you can bury a miniscule pipe.

I still have not worked out a valid reason why Operation Grange dug up the Mound in June 2014. Not one.

Portelas – Os Cinco

We are now living in a relatively rural area of the Algarve, away from the coast and the cities. I have had a brief walk to scope the area, and it looks like most of the locals prefer Portuguese to English. So I need to improve my Portuguese, and I need to do it quickly.

Now I believe that learning a new language (or any subject) should be easy, fast and fun. My 6-year-old grandchild has been tasked by his school with reading a vast number of books in Portuguese this scholastic year, so here is my take on this challenge.

Os Cinco e o Colar de Pérolas. This is a children’s book from 1985, originally in French and then translated into Portuguese. If you are old enough, you will recognise it is a variant of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five.

It is a book for children, so it is easy. It does not use complex words or complex ideas.

At 190 small pages, half of them comic-type illustrations, this book is fast. It is not the size of The Bible, Encyclopedia Britannica, or anywhere near the list of books my grandson is expected to read.

Is it fun? Well it is for me, because I can still think like a 6-year-old. Os Cinco e o Colar de Pérolas. The Five and the Necklace of Pearls. Novas Aventuras dos Cinco.

If you want a grown-up adventure, try this real-life story. My adult-but-young son started out for Lagos bus station at 11.30pm last night. That was 10 hours ago. There he got the 5 hour bus journey to Lisbon, then however he did it he got to the airport. And there he is waiting for his tin can to take off to cross the Atlantic. If it flies on time, he will depart in about two and a half hours from now, bound for the USA.

I don’t know how long his flight takes, but it is not direct. So he stops in the USA, waits, connects, and flies on. Where he then has whatever time it takes him to get to his destination.

The joys of being young. It Must Be Love, Love, Love.