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...