Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Ice is nice at half the price

England freezes as Portugal swims

Apparently these cold days are due to Artic winds sweeping down through England and across the continent and landing on jolly good Portugal. You realise that in the pre EEC days the winds would have stopped in France, and us Iberians could have still had our three hour lunch hour outside. Thanks France. Due to their 28 hour working week, the streets and roads are all empty allowing this dubious "mistral" to accelerate through cold potato soup land into our neck of the woods...

Almost as annoying was Englands bid to host the world cup. Thanks to Panorama and the feckless thick spoilt twit of the offspring of the jug eared aldulteress twerp, it was bloody odds on we would not host the world cup. Thought it would be pretty obvious a few kilos of beluga, a couple of mink coats and a - natasha - a week - for - life is slightly preferable to tea and cucumber sarnies... To William, Becks and Grabby Lingerer and the entire team of Pornorama, thanks, your fired...

Merci beaucoups.... first frost ever in November

Not that it has stopped us from working. Au contrar mons sweets.Dodging rain showers, I am determined to finish the tribrid cooking station. it has been nearly a year since it was delivered so rain or shine I have been progressing.

After building the sides up, I added an entire bundle of rock wool to the roof to increase insulation

Then I constructed the two apexes and cast a layer of steel covered with a mixture of permalite sand and cement for yet more thermal mass and insulation.

To the side of the main bread oven, I raised the back wall to protect the BBQ and rocket stove section.

Forming the combustion chamber for the rocket stove

The whole unit when finished will do the following:-

Well insulated bread oven. The oven already works but due to some ham fisted bee dropping the oven when it was delivered (ok... it was me..) the cracks reduced the effect of thermal mass, keeping the oven warm for hours down by 75%, increasing the thermal mass using rocks, cement, fibreglass, gravel then perlite will keep ot hot for hours!!
Spanish BBQ next to the bread oven. A very simple system of a deep bed of crushed glass topped with sharp sea sand. Using wood burning on the sand and bamboo skewers, it is an easy way to cook.
At the far right is a rocket stove. Wood is burnt in a lower combustion chamber and the verturi effect (sounds like a jet engine), produces an enormous amount of heat to boil large quantities of water for washing up or boiling potatoes.

What our solar cookers can do during the day, the tribrid will do at night!

Marking out Villa Sheeva, an eight person Goan style hut, our next project

Six weeks after planting the seedlings, courgettes and nabos are ready

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Monday, 22 November 2010

It isn't over until the fat lady swings!

Winter rains, Newcastle versus Portalagre

Last of the banana vine

We lit our first fire on November 9th, two days later than last year. Sitting an hour later, sweating in my ex war (first wife) M and S dressing gown, life is good. Tough but good. Business is way down, the Algarve is no longer a playground littered by beaches but as the circle of life slowly ticks around, it is a backdrop of political graffitti, threats of strikes, increased taxes, more fines and higher bills.

High tech capillary bed, not just a bath tub..

So why is it so good I can hear you thinking? Olives, firewood, rabbits, water, herbs, weeds for the chickens............. Foraging has never been so good! We have picked so many abandoned Olive trees that the local lagar (Olive press) gave us nearly 50 litres of good quality Olive oil. We have installed second hand water tanks on every small roof and they are used to water the new green house - our courgettes are ready after only four weeks after planting as seedlings. Leaving onions and lettuce amongst other plants to go to seed (mocked by Antonio my lorry man!) means wild salad free of charge. Our local paths were so overgrown we have pruned them back and kept all the wood with a pat on the back from our local postman (I was going to say a pat from postman Pat but knew better..)
Unless you carefully push boundaries, pay bribes (our fresh eggs) and open your heart and patience and have more time (slow business) you never know.

Merelie The Landscapers Native Tree stall at The MGS Fair

All our trees are 1 euro each, we still have a few left!!

And I got to see my lovely Newcastle United play. A quick week end to England to wish my eldest brother his 60th birthday wishes. I think he got left in the bar outside
the ground. A strange coincidence was the ladies were wearing mini skirts and high heels - only minus 1 outside.

Happy 60th Angus!!

A little warmer this week end, I took Holly up to see Rebecca for her 17th birthday up Portalegre. Thanks to Sue who let me use her car, meaning we could actually go there and back in the same week end! Oddly it was as cold as Newcastle but elleven times cheaper, bonny lad.. Oh yes and I watched Stricknine come boring and yuck factor. I think I won, I turned the TV off.

Dodging wet weather we are still progressing slowly at Quinta Stuart, working on the bread oven, planting more trees (Pines in the hedgerow to get more noise absorbtion from the motorway), planting more bulbs, and sowing favas and peas.

I am determined to finish the bread oven project soon!! Yet another use for marble left at my local supermarket (local bins.)

A bale of rock wool and sixteen buckets of gravel are used to insulate the original top of the bread oven. adding insulation and thermal mass will keep the oven hotter for longer (and hide the cracks where Muggins dropped it off his excavator...)