Monday, 21 December 2009

Spies, spies and more minced pies

Permaculture rules!!

These are taken from second year plants that have survived the hot summer, repeated cabbage moth caterpillar attacks, rampant dogs, bad parking and the odd woofer... I have self seeding lettuce, wild broad beans, wild beautiful girlfriend, so me of this stuff is actually starting to work.

Picked today, eaten today. Food miles 2.8 (went to the pub and back to celebrate)
I am using "Turex", an organic spray to keep the munching bugs way - any better ideas anyone?
Veg, home grown, Macht Nicked Frie sign in the background - - priceless..

"My son is a spy, but if I told you that,I'd have to kill you". He must be a crap spy if his mum knows what he does, ,or a double agent brilliant spy pretending to be a crap spy. Johnny bloody English not.
Wonderful, what a start to the festive season, a santa fatwa hanging like mistletoe over my head.. and after my last blog, someone has left the tap on - over 55mm of rain in the last 24 hours.

Katy Price was a popular choice for the pass the parcel prize

It stayed dry on saturday for the non spies Christmas party, and with a higher than average booze to food to people ratio, twas chrimbo jolly great, thanks to all who came.

Ex spy, Chinese Billy

Ex spy, Mafia Jimbo

Ex secret spies compare their persil whiteness..

We are off on the 7th Jan to Goa until mid February... communication by e mail, I will switch my phone on every two days for any texts and try and keep my blog going in between Kingfishers, Bullets and Thalis!!
Have a great Christmas and see you all in the New Year,
Stu, Owl, Holly and Becky xx

PS No spies were hurt in the making of this party, sorry Katie, we thought your clothes were part of the Christmas wrapping, you can bid for them on e bay if you want them back..

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Under a hot tin roof

Rain rain went to Spain

Still a dry house here in the Algarve. Clouds came and went, temperatures dropped and it was into the first week of December that we lit our first fire.
Having offloaded my fourth lorry load of rough walling rock of the week, I had to water the garden.... gerrnash!!! Having installed a second tank to catch the (non) rain off the workshop roof, I am facing ordering more lorry loads of water. Down in the Sierras of Grazalema (Hi Clive!), they are approaching their yearly average already... 2000mms of the stuff.

My weather guru, Borde d'agua 2009 has been spot on, snow up North, humidity down South. On the next full moon, our only blue moon of the year (second full moon in the same calendar month) predicts not humidity, or chuva BUT - - Chuva abundantement, hopefully the full monty Spanish weather machine aka the ex love of my life Kate Bush in that classic video with Donald sutherland.
I bought the Borde d'agua 2010 last week, but will await until our return from Goa to read it.

Work continues to be hectic - we will be working through Christmas on some great eco landscapes - removing palm weevil destroyed palms, restoring a neglected orchard, recycling a garden full of rocks. Every day is so different, but I wish I could get a few days back at the farm.
Thanks to AR and her recommendation of Mercearia Bio (, who deliver the most beautiful baskets of mixed organic vegetables anywhere in the Algarve.

Mre later and pics... goto make my daughters dinner!!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Incredible U turn by Snr. Nobel

Bin Laden Obama hands prize to President N Griffin

Not Griff Nickin..

Mind the gap...

Between my ears or the epoc of Barak's illegal wars and the fact that Nick Griffin has upset less Muslims than Bararakafat (only due to the lack of TVs in Irak, Iran, Afganistan and Birmingham and that Griffin means Harry Potter in those languages)
Here's one to think about though. What if Obama is right and continued peace is only due to constantly chasing the Taliban and their version of terrorism? Maybe in fifty years time we can really give him a pat on the back and say he was right? I feel not, but comments welcome please!!

Big apologies for my last blog as it contained no references to gardens, farms, permaculture or even Jacqui Smith. I will correct that now.

The hour changed, the days shortened and the temperature has dropped. An offer of ten lorry loads of horse manure meant a couple of frantic days in reverse down slippery slopes has led to the whole garden being top dressed in twenty cms of horse poo. Another 15 fruit trees, 200 onion seedlings, more lettuce, brocculi and beetroot plantlings has the garden set up for winter. Keeper of all garden knowledge, Antonio the water man reckons I will regret the muck spreading because of the weeds, but heck what does he know (answer : everything....)

Biggest arrival was the very delayed pick up of my bread oven

How not to deliver a bread oven..

Given my impatience, I had it put on the back of my truck and drove home. I should have guessed it was heavy by the slewing of my faithful toyota. By the time I swung it upside down, landed it chimney side down, carefully blocked my drive, cycled to my supplier and had him lift it effortlessly with crane onto my raised plinth, it was beer time.

It must be easy after so many deliveries.. I mean it has to be..

The next day, with the help of Calvin from Algarve Tipi's (see link at side), we fired her up and produced three beautiful loaves, and with a bean stew, Aldi's finest non organic red, celebrated in style.

I chose the model with chimney for easy starting
Following Jonothan of Rainbow´s advice, lots of thin branches to heat all around

The final result!! Chiili and Coriander, Sour dough and German beer bread, oh yes....

This saturday awaits, bread, cornish pasties, cheese pasties pizza and lamb leg on the menu. It is another step away from the electric oven, gaz hob and more importantly bills!! Come and join us, come and cook, laugh, sing, cry. Our door is always open - and we have much to learn from you all,

Stu and Owl xx

PS On a bitter note, I have just been informed of about the twentieth house robbery in as many days. Pre Christmas opportunists emptied a house just West of Loulé, furniture and all. Keep it tight, vary routines with cars, parking, lights and shopping. Watch your mirror when 1000 metres from home and do an extra lap around the block if unsure. This serious stuff my friends.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Winds of Change

"Only when the last tree has fallen,
the last river polluted,
will we realise you can't eat money"

Small natural landscape completed this week

This quote is from an ancient Indian poem. Not untrue eh?
I have got itchy f
Frequent trips in th
e camper relieve them temporarily, we will visit the Roman towns between Seviila and Cordoba in a couple of weeks for three or four days.
I feel I am attached to the Algarve by my umbilical cord - and a badly expired passport. Time to go further afield. January and February are normally quiet. Always lots to do on the farm, plenty of firewood to burn, projects to finish, friends to see, wine and dine. But it is time to fly again. It is ten years since I left Europe, two years since I flew at all.
Time to crush myself in row 26, knees jammed probably tighter t
han ever in cattle third class, politely refusing year old plastic food, dehydrating gins, boring films, Tracy and Wayne, pee strewn loos, long airport queues.
All for a quick veggie Vindaloo or two. We are off to Goa for five weeks in January and February.
Gina of Solseta( has been brilliant and arranged the flights, mainly with British Airways (No Tracy and Wayne or Sacha and Marie but more likely university educated Gillian and Henry).

Faro Airport police pursue the silly Brits who leave cars outside the designated parking areas - runways are not the best place lads...

And congratulations, Bin Laden Obama, the only President to win a Nobel Peace Prize whilst waging two illegal wars at the same time. Apparently he replied to one of those Nigerian e mails and it turned out to be true.. If you would like to check the award is solid gold, try sending it to - these guys seem really genuine, just like those nice Nigerian businessmen..

Friday, 25 September 2009

Make Jam From The North Side of The Tree

Guess who's back??

Three weeks in the saddle (or camper) followed by three weeks on my digger and the next thing I managed to do was to accidentally delete virtually all my holiday photos and reformat the new laptop to make sure I can't retrive them.

A few nights ago, it finally happened. The moon climbed over the tipi and shone straight through the smoke hole waking me with astounding results:-

1.) I am now 1000 years younger
2.) My disco stick is considerably longer
3.) I am back into making lists
4.) I am no longer in love with Lady Gaga (helped by the News of the World claiming she has a disco stick of her own!!)

We set off late August and headed to Cadiz. Cadiz was full. So full the car parks charge by the minute.. If I'm going to pay by the minute, come back Home Secretary. Heading down the coast we escaped the heat under a shady tree in Conil de la Fronteira, quite a nice town. It was one of those campsites where wrinklys swept the leaves off their pristine groundsheets and I wished I had my leaf blower and Bruno and a video camera. 

The Med is... well the Med, clearer, warmer and miles prettier than Portugal - and that's just the women. 

We called in to see Clive and Sue and little Sam, who run, promoting eco tourism and had a great night and left with several tonnes of pumpkins, courgetes and tomatoes. And a hangover too...

Clive and a barbie doll. Screams really realistically!

The heat increased and even parking five metres off high tide in Mojocar didn't help - although it made for spectacular skinny dipping. It is a busy tourist place but is nice and relaxed. A bag of ice and a newspaper every morning, cheap menu de dia, live music, free showers. We will be back.

Mojocar is cool!!

One of the highlights of our trip was a stay at Los Gazquez above the picturesque village of Velez Blanco ( Simon and Donna have spent two years and a shed load of money creating an off grid hotel at 1200 metres altitude. With six double bedrooms on suite, solar and wind power, we arrived as strangers, were treated like kings and left firm friends.
To spend a night with absolutely no light pollution, I fell asleep under the stars (and yes you guessed left with a hangover..)

Around every corner in Spain you can find something different - this was a full blown Aussie Bar in a small village near nowhere -note this is not a Nile crocodile!!

All my photos lost -only got this postcard..

Highlight of the trip was the desert region of Cabo de Gata, a peninsula of the SE corner of Spain and designated as the only desert land of Europe. Filling a 40 year wish, we went to Mini Hollywood and saw the wild west shoot out (and bought the tee shirt and CD!!), saw an earthship (, and spent a couple of days at Sunseed (

So back home and working hard - just started the tribrid wood cooking station:- bread oven, BBQ and rocket stove all in one unit. The theatre of dreams is finished, summers ending and we have now moved from the tipi to the Owl House. How was your summer? 

Tribrid cooking station , 2048 bottles of Sagres wanted to infill it..

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Make Love Whilst the Sun Shines

It ain't looting if you leave a note..

A lesson from Hurricane Katrina, you need supplies, take em but leave a message....

I have taken August off. Don't ring, don't sererande, don't hire Lady Gaga to run past me naked***, I am retired for this month. Or I was.
Carobs, Figs, Almonds for starters. My water man and his never ending advice, only lightly dulled by Sagres injection - pick em, dry roast em, stuff em, good job the bugger doesn't know about jam or actually eating the things fresh.... Seems the neighbours are interested in the Carobs and nothing else, every morning I can pick a bucket of figs in five minutes.

And we have been finishing things!!

The Theatre of Dreams gains its sky roof, which we will cover with climbers. As well as a chill out zone, it will be used as an outdoor cinema to show some of the eco films I er accidentally bought on tinternet whilst sponsored by Sagres last week....

Roasting figs in the solar oven - six sunny days, no cost!!

Drying figs on an old pallet and chicken wire. At 700 calories per 100 grammes dried, this is essential winter power food. Neighbours don't even pick theirs....

Fixing the Food Chain

After a snake dropped out of the rafters above my office desk,(small black
one 40cms long - any guesses anyone??) I did some research. Because of my chicken food storage (all over the floor because of the cat), snakes will move in to prey on the rats. since this is a touch disconcerting, I found the answer is the Nile Crocodile - 200 quid later from Ebay Egypt and I think he has cured the problem. The dogs are a little wary and we haven't seen the cat for a while but the problem snakes seemed to have disappeared. Owl is a little scared as we are still sleeping in the tipi, and since the dog can sneak under the sides she seems to think Tooting - come - on (the croc, natch!) might pay us a visit as well, seems just can't please some people............

A real baby at heart, Tooting - come -on is fond of all ends of the food chain

Two Mangoes - at least I managed to plant a good big fruit variety

Pumpkins, another great winter storage food

Crops picked, figs drying, tomato sauce made, it is time for a break. We are off next week to Spain for a couple of weeks - to Cadiz, then Sierra da Grazalema to see Clive of Wildside Holidays ( - great eco places to stay at) and Simon of Los Gazquez eco retreat - fantastic place 1000 metres above sea level(, then down to the South Coast to see my pal Tee Shirt near Motril and along to see Dave and Laura and their earthship construction ( and hopefully to see Eduardo at Spain's leading solar shop near Ronda (
If you need me, text me or Owl on 917814261, or speak to the croc..... he won't fit in the camper.

***Ok, you can really, but she is lousy at gardening - look what she did to my palm tree!!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Up the Orient without a paddle, manager or hero

Sad day for the Toon.


The death of Sir Bobby Robson, Geordie Gentleman puts life into a sharper perspective. He turned out only four days before his death to watch the re run of 1990 England v Germany. You can guess in a few days, he will be a popular memory for us Newcastle fans.

In contrast, that little plastic spastic monkey Wacko Jacko continues to appall us with todays News of The Screws picture of his death bed, his heirs, more unknown kids, and whatever some low life papparrazi can discover for next weeks sunday papers.

It gets worse for Newcastle, Shearer finally signs for the BBC.... ending his chase to get Newcastle sold and become full time manager. Whilst he scored the winning goal on the re run of the 1990 England - Germany match, Newcastle lost 6 - 1 to an unknown bunch of cheats called Leighton Orient..

Enough of football, this is an eco blog, read by thousands to champion the cause of compost loos.

My latest volunteers have just left, having picked my Carob beans and stained all the woodwork. Nephew Purple Ronnie has arived and when the bright pink lobster colour he won at the beach subsides, will be able to help us finish the Theatre of Dreams. He has a sore purple head this morning as a result of back to back parties and olympic sagres consumption....

A Gloriette!! We are propagating the native Algarve white rose to climb over the whole roof. The raised beds that surround our version will be narrowed and heightened so we can top them up with a less friable soil in an attempt to use less water.
We have just watched "Garbage Warrior", a narrative on Michael Renolds (The founder of Earthships) and his struggle to legalise them. This has inspired me to keep all my empty bottles and build my hamman out of them - a semi sauna come massage room.
Watching the film with us was Jonothan from Rainbow who has decided to sell his share of the community and move on to a small farm with Jenny. He stayed for a few days and has fitted a hydrogen inverter on my old Mercedes (watch this space for economy figures!!) and also showed us how to make a proper sourdough bread - using freshly milled flour mixed with water and doubled for three days to make bread with only the wild yeast that the flour contains - worked well, better put building a bread oven on my list as well.. got to keep Purple Ronnie busy!!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Invest in yourself!

Giant triffid guards Casa Mexico, now complete, 
must go to the beach and get some sea water!!

Sitting here with a three day old tummy ache, I don't know what is worse, the gut ache or the bolly chemist who sold me a sweet version of alka seltzer for ten euros. It will be a while before I eat Japanese food off a conveyor belt again... although it may have something to do with the green jelly and unlimited prawns. This is the Fukukutchi Restaurante at the new Olhão Shopping centre. First four letters of the name sum up what they have done to me (Owl was ok, think it is hidden meat or lard that got me).
The saving grace is we have moved into our tipi, and man do we sleep like babies - I have even put the quilt back on as it gets a little chilly in the middle of the night. Those who mock me, sleep soundly in your beds whilst the bugs in the air con system infest your every inward breath. It really shows how little you need to live in a hot country.

Instant bedroom anyone? Thanks to Calvin of Tipi Algarve for the erection

My view every morning, like a rebirth


A politician? A banker? A policeman? Possibly the copper. To illustrate why the world is very very depressed consider this (ah.. a list!!)

a) Santander Group are the worlds biggest banking group: They have overtaken HSBC, and now as the worlds local bank must employ more village idiots by definition.

b) Alliance and Leicester are owned by Santander

c) A  and Leicester's latest add offers 6% interest for up to 2500 pounds for a year to the over 50s, after that it reverts to 0.1%

d) In the not so small print is a management fee of 10 pounds per month.

e) If you take the interest minus the management fee (150 minus 120  = 30 pounds yearly interest), you get an interest rate of little over 1%....

And this is from the worlds biggest bank, are we supposed to trust them? Rather you than me. Until we have an economy based on actual business between you and me, the world isn't going to be safe. Funnily enough Prince Charles (Deputy Head of the  NDFP*)) was critisized for suggesting that this is the only way forward and tesco - esque profiterring is wrong. Well done Charlie, one limited edition Princess Diana land mine on its way to you. Suggest you put it under Mugabes cushion next time you have tea with him.

Invest in yourself!

Yes it's a dangerous tactic, self belief. We have been plodding on in the heat at Quinta Stu, buying in water to try and save our flagging vegetables. One thing we have been doing well is foraging for building materials for the Budda Bar, our outside kitchen and bar. Three marble tops from a skip, wooden poles from a scrappie, flag stones from a job and a whole whack of orange canvas stolen from Holland, a few donated doors, a car seat (bar stool!) and a second hand sink will make an interesting project. Just hope I can complete it before Owl cottons on to all this free spirit construction (i.e. Complete Rubbish Hotel Construction System). No money will be changing hands in the building of this icon.

Vital in the construction of an outside bar is 
the bright orange smoking budda

*non democratic fascist party

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Bending, Surfing and Life On The Road

THE TALKING ANIMAL PRODUCTION COMPANY .....The only way to here the truth in this world full of lies!!

Somali pirates hiding in Azenha de Mar

Ahh.... Morning campers. A week on the road with Owl, Sooty and the camper has lowered the blood pressure and increased the bad joke to good joke ratio...
Alan / I am going to divorce the wife, she hasn-t spoken to me for two months
Fred \ I wouldn-t do that, such women are hard to find.

My kind of woman

The week started with a couple of days at Rainbow, building a bender with Jonathon and bender specialist Mary Salix. Whilst not ground breakingly new for me, it really showed that anything can be used to make a quick windproof and homely shelter. Sizzling hot weather, bread oven pizza, a lesson on clipping Romao the Donkeys hooves and a driving lesson on donkey and cart completed a nice low carbon week end.

Courgettes in car tyres

And as a special gift to all you lovely people, I share a sneak preview of the TAP film companies new film, Talking Donkies.
The west coast of Portugal from Aljezur to Vila Nova de Milfonts is blessed with some amazing little coves and fishing ports. Unfortunatley the towns close to them are new, scruffy and the food offered not fresh and very expensive. Fish restaurants with no fresh fish on display but a long list of them on the menu?? The prettiest and only town with a little style and atmosphere was Monte Clerigo, due West of Aljezur. Seeing the sun set into the sea was my main pull. We parked on the pavement at Azenha de Mar, overhanging the Atlantic. With no bar or restaurant, we would have been lost without the gin and camper... and the production crew

Blue Lagoon anyone?

and another classic from TAP

Nice artistic pic by Owl of ruin at sunset

Friday, 19 June 2009

Twenty Three Minute Chicken Blows Away Master Chef Puffs


42 in the shade - ideal cooking temperature for the solar cooker

So celebrity masterchef has started again. The only thing sadder is that Newcastle United are up for sale and the asking price for the entire club,trophy room with adequete space for several trophies, 38 restaurantes and all is the same price that Real Madrid are paying for that manky monkey cheese head Ronaldo...

23 minute solar chicken - the oven would have taken an hour, therefore I beat Master Chef and thencefore christen them Little Chef and the Bald One..

The solar cooker was supplied from and cost about 100 euros including delivery from Spain. Although a little rickerty, it is easy to use and man can it heat anything!! I put a newsaper on the centre pot holder a few days ago to see how focused the beam was and it burst into flames within one second. Having set fire to the fence twice, you really have to pay attention whilst not using it. Really is a zero carbon success story.

Casa Mexico, the eco kitchen and bathroom are finally finished. A 25m coil of 3\4" black tube sits snuggly on a black roofing membrane to provide the hot water. 25 metres of this tube contains 10 litres of pre heated water - perfect for a shower or washing up. All used water goes into a tank at the back to be used on the garden.

           Kitchen area

Intrepid camera man hangs upside down for the perfect shot of the Owl bathroom mirror!!

Small pumpkin hides under wilting leaf in the hot sun. This variety is called Gentle Giant, and can grow to 80 kilos!!!

Prodical daughter returns for the holiday week end from her boarding school up at Alter De Chão, East of Coimbro - what are they feeding her??


Mega thanks to Calvin of Agarve Tipis for putting up my new tipi, what a gent.
Photos of this in my next blog. Off to Rainbow to see Jonathon and bend some willow and dance to the summer solstice and see the starts and and and............ bye friends!!

PS Anyone know how I can change the date of this blog. I actually published it today, 19th of june but started it on the 12th as proclaimed above Annoying!!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Death of a Princess


Yes, a sad day at Quinta Stuart with the discovery of a dead chicken in my chicken ark. Poor Gerry was a little stiff and very quiet and lying on her side. After a little detective work, I deduced she was dead, cause of death unknown - no marks, no suicide note, no guilty looking chicken looking on. Any ideas dear readers? Holly suspects a snake attack as we have a few around at the moment.. Can I put a new one in with Kate or will they fight too much?

New sign at Quinta Stuart - an old pallet, cost zero!!

I emptied my second compost heap this week - really rich compost but definately anarobic - heavy smelly and compacted. The Humanure Handbook, one of the best books on compost toilets and composting claims there are no advantages to turning compost piles regularly, Monty Don, ex Gardeners World, swore by turning his compost heaps every fortnight or so. Maybe it depends on what goes in. I always try and keep it light, if I add a load of green weeds, then I will add a layer of more open greenery, but it didn't work. The compost is strong and will add strength to a raised bed that had burnt out the imported sub - strato in only three months.

Something satisfying about your own compost!!

The slow careful study of land is a big part of permaculture, and the longer I live, the more I understand. If you plough your land every season, then the erosion increases and a lot of micro nutrients are lost. Conversely it makes barren lands open to the rains and starts a different cycle of local species of plants (weeds if not a nitrogen fixer or grazing crop!!)
One piece of land attached to our property has not been touched for several years. The Almonds are all dead (still useful as a firewood bank) and the land has only wild thyme growing on it - great for my lebanese bread and pizzas. So what at a glance is worthless has at least two useful aspects, as well as no erosion in the form of dust into our house and a natural barrier for privacy (difficult to walk over)

Sea of Thyme, Ghosts of Almonds.

Advance notice - Going on a bender!!!

Ever thought willow bending was just for an uncomfortable igloo or sweat lodge? Think again. Jonathon and Jennie are playing host to Mary Salix, willow bender. Between the 20th and 22nd June, they will be running a three day course up at Rainbow, near Odemira - what a beautiful excuse to see the summer solstice under the stars and learn something different? Contact Jonathon for more details (

Need a cheap green house? Willow can do it!!

One lesson I have learnt this year is to not ignore flowering plants in my Permaculture garden.
The mix of bulbs and stoloniferous perennials is a great addition to my garden - little water and
care, they break up the monotony of vegetables and will create low water micro enviroments year by year. 

This climbing rose gets no water and the thorns make it a handy barrier.

Bread workshop at Quinta Stuart

Thanks to all those people that turned up for last weeks "Use your Loaf" bread making session at Quinta Stuart. Unfortunately the bad weather forced us indoors, and after a glass of wine or two, we had some great results.

The topping on the round bread is Thyme, Rhus and Olive oil.

Uncle Calvins sign after some annonymous punk added graffitti...