Sunday, 15 February 2009


Thousands of prizes not to win in this dangerously easy to play competition!!

Competition Question number one, which is the real cabbage?

I was driving back from Albufeira yesterday and noticed that where the orange sellers were on the main road there were several prostitutes. Quite amazing, hooker, oranges, hooker, oranges. Some of them were quite juicy!
From no work on Tuesday, I have just picked up about four weeks hard graft:-

1) Ripping out an old Lavender hedge and replacing it with native Escalonia (less water, more permanent).
2) Removing some non native pines and pruning a few vain bound citrus
3) Hanging some golf nets (well saves the man driving to the driving range so I guess that reduces some carbon use).
4) Helping Calvin at his tipi centre near Monchique - see link on right, his bookings are going really well, just shows guys, do something different and you will be rewarded!!
5) Rebuild a dry stone wall pushed over by a big Olive.

Great, just as we are heading North to see my daughter for Carnival then a few days near Almeria to see an old pal.

Quiz question number two. Why oh why didn't Portugal invent the tapa?

One of my most impressive achievements this week was buying an excellent book on identifying mushrooms, and promptly finding and identifying three different mushrooms on my own land!!

Quiz question number three. How many were edible?

The book, lest I forget to name it is The Field Guide to Mushrooms and other Fungi of Britian and Europe, published by BUT purchased through - miles cheaper than Amazon and the postage is included (still cheaper than Amazon by two or three euros every time!!)
I found the Brown Mottegill, non edible and appears after rain especially on manure (covered my garden with manure...)
Also the Deadly Web Cap, super toxic and stops your kidneys from working..
AND the Common Ink Cap, edible but very past its sell by date..

Good though, and the book will travel with me this week. Amazing how many of them seem to grow where manure has been added. Might be nice if I could even find an edible one.
This week I planted some Tomatoes outside and some melon seedlings under five litre water bottles (empty, but I guess you guessed that..) and fixed a pig of a job. The outside sink had stopped draining, I had to remove two banana trees that the sink waste waters and eventually chip around and smash the drain to find a few inches of solidified cement and sand. One of our last woofers was very keen on washing his hands so every time it started to accumulate at the end of the tube - I was impressed that the bananas showed no signs of putting roots into my drains,. Man the beer tasted good after that job!

Keyhole surgery was needed. Competition question number four. How long did it take me and how many beers did it take for me to stop swearing at the woofer??

Amazingly these drain blockers started life as a little grime on someones hands..

And Owl finally finished her blog about the Owl house, a really nice little wooden chalet that we are renting out nice and cheaply this summer. We include free bicycle hire and breakfast, for only 220 euros a week (one or two people).
Please visit her website at

Answers to all quiz questions to There may actually be a few prizes!
See you next week, Stu  x

Monday, 9 February 2009

Three Walnuts, three Cherries, three eggs

After a couple of dry days, Stuart unfreezes himself from the Cryogenic Crypt!!
If I managed the England cricket team, I would teach em to catch three eggs at a time, like me......

How oh how can that idiot Clarkson seriously insult Gordon Brown and get away with a light apology whilst Jonathon Ross gets a three month suspension for calling a hoe a hoe.... Incidentally, Damon Hill is the stig. Find him in the posh restaurant next to the Bottom Gear test track after most test sessions. 
Mind, I will insult old one eye if he lets the banks pay all those failure related bonuses. Didn't you and I think the world was like this:-

a) I make baked beans
b) You buy my baked beans
c) I buy beer and women with my profit
d) The breweries and lap dancing clubs buy my baked beans
e) Etc we all live happily ever after.

Shame we were all wrong. There were no baked beans, no lap dancers just banks and Jeremy Clarkson and One Eye and Barak O Laden. Makes the Olympics seem like a lunch fund compared to The 99 Red Balloon trillion dollars game. My solution is to have the Olympics every week, but pick a country where you would like to go to .... some of our guys must have been gutted at the prospect of getting the tube to compete instead of staying in some six star training camp full of Russian totty trying harder to win a British passport than falling off that b****rd of a  little beam. Sidney, oh yes please! No wonder we won so many medals, a new baby boom has just started there, all those little Rebeccas and Bradleys so cute...

Living room and kitchen (actually all one big room) at Quinta Stuart

A couple of dry days and a well waxing moon had to be the sign to do my final planting of the winter, so with Holly I dodged church and headed down to Estoi Market (2nd Sunday of every month). There is something nice about arriving early at the market as the stalls are being set up, familiar faces, bright morning sun and even a car park space. I am looking for a cart and have been offered a young mule so soon, I will make this trip and be able to park anywhere! I shall invent cart - rage, drinking whilst driving and lots more toad of toad hall stuff.

 In the meantimeBatistas smiley face acknowledged the fact that finally he had my long awaited tree order. Three American Walnuts (Species Lara, a bigger tastier nut) and three Cherries - known as Gingeira and the only suitable Cherry for the Algarve (the main variaties prefer further North, like the Sweet Chestnut). And another 100 onion sets for the heck of it. Oh yes and a few dodgy  DVDs and a top for owl that I should have kept for Valentines Day (Maybe I can steal it and wrap it again?)

Three Walnuts planted in a deep trench filled with my own compost. Although close to the fence, the land beyond the fence is left by the neighbour, so I may as well use his airspace!!

I planted some of the onions under my Nasturtian pots, water above, drips to plants below.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Life from the Yellow Submarine..***

Sunset as seen through my periscope

It is now 140 years since it started raining. Even Noah would have run out of Dodo steaks to barbeque waiting for it to stop bloody raining. I have to admit it was dry yesterday, but one day doesn't count. Especially since I didn't get any dry firewood in and now only the tip of faro Cathedral is visible above the water and there is a hazard warning light flashing in the yellow submarine that I think means:-

a) We are running low on plutoneum, so best not go to supermarket.
b) The chimney for the woodburner is submerged.
c) The bloody traction hyperdrive is playing up again.

(*** Viz the title, this is not some Beatles inspired skiff. I have always detested the Beatles, their music, their family and friends, except for Wor Heather, never mess with a Geordie Lass, Paul you old Cod. The submarine is actually black but the rust stains have turned it a nasty shade of wee...) 

The view from the camper window - who needs a beachfront house when you gotta camper!

We spent the week end in Spain, parked on the harbour at Punte del Morel, near Ayamonte, reading and eating and drinking, watching the sunset and trying to avoid being blown away by the tornado on Saturday night. Nice to get away. Staying put for 36 hours was a little like being in a hide - eventually the locals ignored us and continued speaking at 3,500 decibels like we weren't there. Good seafood and wine, a little short of totty though - could have done with Wor Heather.

Beach cycling - The Heather Mills Spanish Campionship,not, but good fun!

Back home, we had had 52mm of rain over the week end. That translates as 52 litres of water per square metre. Multiply that by our roof catchment area of 160 square metres and another 8000 litres of water into our water tank. It stands at an all time high of 2,05 metres (full is 3,00 metres or about 90,000 litres of water which should last us the summer (lots of watering, little is used in the house).
It is so soggy though, I dug a four foot deep hole for my wind indicator ( a Greek flag tied to an old tipi pole, cost zero) and even that had fallen over. I did manage to get a little more work done on the new outside Love Lounge and I think I will get into my workshop and build a couple of cold frames that will double up as solar cookers for the summer.

The corner trusses add a little extra touch. Got to save up for the roof now.

I have noticed my onions are loving this rain. Just been outside and picked some broccoli, chilli peppers, tomatoes, suedes (nabos) and dug some jerusalem artichokes. My broad beans have grown so quickly they have fallen over. The Almonds have finished their early this year blossom and I can see all my deciduous fruit trees budding up. Spring I guess is slowly approaching, if only I can find the instructions to land this rusty submarine...

Picked today from my garden. Now masterchef, you have 50 minutes to impress me!