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.

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.