Thursday, 22 December 2011

15 minutes with a local hero!!

Sometimes a quiet drink leads to great things...

Sunday morning at BJs in Sta Barbara and SIC National news get confirmation from yours truly on the pending collapse of the euro and all Portugal's banking system... you mean no-one told you?? Watch the whole article with Owl's legendary Jamesons Whisky Cameo role on the link below...

Absolutely fabulous December weather, sunset over the naked bones of the Tipi

A minor refit and total repaint of the inside of the Cheeky Chapati, making it much comfier.

A new deck path and gravel garden add a nice touch to Villa Ganeesha. We are currently installing a new roof and draft proofing the walls.

Weedsheet and pinebark to tidy up the garden below Cosy Cabin.

New stone wall, giant Streltzias, weed sheet and Spanish pea gravel in the area between Cosy Cabin and the house. Now the remaining areas can be mowed or strimmed making the general maintenance much easier... us Landscapers are lazy beggers really!!

So Christmas looms, both Holly and Becky are with us for the holidays. We head off to Cuba for few weeks early January to study urban Permaculture design (and how to make the perfect Mohito!) and are back mid February. Have a great Christmas and don't do anything I wouldn't...

Monday, 5 December 2011

Travelling in Time

An Eco Christmas, Part One

A years supply of wine bottles make an excellent Christmas tree at a fraction of the cost to this tiny planet!!

I am not a relaxed or organised traveller, but I know that when the hire car I booked is not awaiting me at the airport because of a computer mistake, it's the car hire company's problem. What I am slowly learning is that when the car isn't there because I accidentally booked it for the wrong airport, it's still sort of their problem.

Hot tears of self-recrimination are a waste of everybody's time; just take a deep breath, walk up to the desk and present yourself as a mess to be cleaned up. Advance planning can be psychologically soothing, but nothing will serve you as well as a relaxed attitude toward your own incompetence. Never apologise, never explain, and throw money at the problem if you think it will help!!

Travel hints number 1.

We all know about couch surfing, but choose the single hosts.. with no mates they are bound to cook you something!!

Admit your mistakes cheerily. No, I can't speak a word of Croatian, which is why I ordered the tripe. Yes, I lost my hotel key. No, this is not the credit card I booked with. Yes, looking at the ticket more closely, it does seem to be for yesterday's flight. No, I am not really fit to travel, but it's too late to worry about that. I'm here now.... well we will be soon as the guide book and map arrive - we are off to Cuba.

Travel Hints no. 2

Get free upgrades on your long haul flights, add Professor to your name by purchasing a £200 degree in drug abuse from The European City Of Opiates 2010 (formally known as Evertonia)

Just a small hurdle of Christmas, brothers, kids, nieces, vegetarian turkey and an overdraft to clear.... and a few jobs on the farm, better get busy!!!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Closing time on the farm

We bid a fond farewell to Super Mario and Sabina, our favourite Italians - not only did they persuade me to go deep sea fishing with them, they cooked all the catch!!

Lecca's finest!! They sure know how to cook (and pose!) in Southern Italy...

Last of the summer whine... Sooty in full camouflage mode.

The rain finally arrived in early November and after the first couple of storms we took the tipi down and winterised Cheeky Chapati ready for a new floor and a revamp. The list of jobs is so long -new sofa lounge, one more wooden house, more paths, planting, clearing, repairing... need more volunteers!! We also took advantage of taking a week end course in Tagledt plastering (Moroccan marble dust) which is sooo difficult - a fantastic week end and big thanks to Joachim of for a fantastic time, two great lunches and lots of friendly kindred spirits - Adobe course next!!

Had trouble concentrating on the task. ex Newcastle United striker Brian "Killer" Kilkine's wife working opposite me!!

Owl next to one of her latest wall hangings - all made of used plastic bottles to highlight the waste we generate on this tiny planet.

We went up to Evora last week end to celebrate daughter Rebeccas 18th birthday... where have all the years gone? She started university in what must be one of the prettiest cities in Portugal... just do not try and find a coffee after 8pm...

Owl and Becky at Restaurante Malagueira, a great Spanish tapa place, the only restaurante that was full!

Yours truly and Holly

End of season at Quinta Stuart and the return of the naked gardener / chef / builder....

James, aka "Jimbo" our last volunteer of the summer..typical nice Aussie, thrashed me at go karting. couldn't beat me at darts though...

Monday, 3 October 2011

A clueless cretin abroad..

If you ever think governments actually have a clue how to run the country, rethink and consider the below...

Dafty Cameron advised yesterday for individuals to pay off their credit cards - sound advise but he may have forgotten that the whole world swings around on credit.... without credit or debit, there is no economy and the economy stifles. Anybody know why? Oh and not suprisingly he retracted the comment later on today. And then proposed more money to banks to lend (or to swallow themselves)

Obama has advised Europe to give the banks THREE TRILLION EUROS to solve the problem.. He obviously runs the whole world, not only the Uselss of A. When, dear friends did we actually have an economy that ran on the good old system, sell your products, spend the profit on your friends products and so on.... Nineteenth century aparently.

Meanwhile, down the farm, the credit crunch (or 3D, first to name the triple dip that follows..) plays a background role as fun and love gets in the way of bank and political theft!!

The Hug Deli at Manta Rota, Eastern Portugal, Invisible products at invisible prices.. the tour continues!!! Volunteers wanted!!

Used tyres, new shoes

Take a genuine Harley Davidson used back tyre, from the local dumpster

Use the old crocs as templates and cut out two new soles

Contact adhesive and glue together... another 2000 miles!!

The Triple Indian Summer still continues, my tan deepens and bar a broken projector, the hammocks at Quinta Stuart are still well occupied. A great bring and share curry night last week end signified the end of Quinta Stuart's summer season.

We will be adding another wooden house (Stuey's Shack) this winter and are planning more outreach and educational courses - watch this spot!!

Owl at the Lisbon Bike Run

We must remember that as long as we tread gently on this world, speak kindly, live carefully, love generously, care deeply we will all be okay. Stu and Owl x

Monday, 15 August 2011

The Full Monty!!

In terms of multi media, captain fantastic hi tech super blogs. Nothing to do with red wine fuelled midnight naked conger dancing contests...
I wish. so many good looking friends staying here I am starting to look very ordinary. When I accidentally bought an OAP travel card last year in England and had it inspected five times with no complaints...

Sooty was most put out being used as a political weapon

Had a riot last week, laughed for days... that was actually a Les Dawson ( a dead comic). Sometimes in these really run down areas with 80% unemployment, a riot / looting / arson would be like a day out to the zoo for us guys. This is not being glib, but broken families, drug abuse, no chance of working, homeless, unqualified, godless... what chance for the take away generation?

Meanwhile (back) down on the farm...

The political arguments last well into the night, catch a quick snippet here!

Us being interviewed on Kiss FM with the famous Sabino!!

Will you all go home? How many mouths can we feed.... typical night at Quinta Stuart - come and see!

Our latest volunteer....... we find the younger they are the less they eat!!

Birdie and Kimbo, never their best at breakfast..

Too hot, you know where to find me, under the nearest stone, Stu x

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Our Fragile Planet

Whilst Little Britain riots and cancels football matches, this clever chap is stocking up for the hard times to come...

Whether a riot in London (imagine this happening whilst the Olympics are on!!) or a crashing stock exchange, I guess we are bit in the poo. Seriously.
I guess (again) that me or you could really close our eyes and go to work tomorrow and pretend all is ok, food on the shelves, water in our pipes.
But what happens if it is not? What if the trillion dollar bailout in the Useless of A is burnt through in what six months and there is no more rescue funds? I will leave you to ponder that.......... meanwhile, down on the farm, we have been busy.

Deciding to save a few euros, we are not using our irrigation to water the trees, only an occasional splash using our used shower water , the trees which are now 3 years old are not suffering and have given a good crop. This means our water bill is 50% less than last year.. and we have a lot more people staying.

Kimbo and Birdie have moved on after a month here. Kimbo has been working like a trojan, finishing the decking and fencing and tidying all the boundaries. Thanks guys and enjoy Croatia and Greece and eventually Australia. looking for an older female to stay for the rest of the summer. Free room and food in exchange for a few hours help cleaning and cooking six days a week??

Thanks to Jimbo and Birdie for the new decking, now the whole of Theatre of Dreams, Cheeky Chapati and Tikka Bar is all decked.. bare foot luxury!!

And thanks to Pura Vida for lending us Paul Palmer to teach us how to build steps in less than 4 days er hours!! (Cheers Paul!!)

Fig time is with us again. Not a good year for the green ones - our main four trees will only be good for drying figs but the neighbours black figs are great!!

With 36 celcius in the shade, we have cancelled the fortnightly movie night but we are showing the odd movie for our guests every three or four days - just wish those hammocks weren't so comfy...... some big bugger always falls asleep within half an hour of the film,, see you next month, Stu and Owl x

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Fastest Pizza

They came from Madrid. They came from Valencia. They came to Quinta stuart to celebrate the first Pizza Night of the year.Actually they came to watch the 1970s band Iron Maiden redo a few sad hits and release a press shot of a few blokes in need of a haircut. Not being a heavy metal fan, I had to accept their comment of "mal, muito mal"... I leave it to any Thatcheresque fans to dispute their comment.

We have a new family, Los Espanhols!!

Expert plumber, Super Goygo, nice guy and comedian

Pizza for 11, cooked in our bread oven. Goygo is smiling so much as he has nearly 2 kilos of pizza on his plate!!

Despite my protests, they insisted on parking 4 motorbikes in the tipi!!

Thanks to Ana, Rolf, Goygo, Suzie and Maira for an interesting week end at Quinta Stuart. They were great fun and so many jokes and laughs .. come back guys!!

Kimbo and Birdie, our two Aussie friends are coming back later this week to helo out. We will be extending the decking around the Tikka Bar and up to the evil - stuart never wins - dartboard.

Sad Boy Stuey despite 24 hour practises cannot hit number one...

I actually won a new dartboard at Central Algarve ( open day two week ends ago. Andy and an army of volunteers are rebuilding an old holiday resort to take seriously disabled children from England for often their first ever holiday. They are looking for skilled volunteers (electricians, plumbers, tilers and lots of keen people to cook, clean and help around).
Hiding in the shade at Quinta Stuart, man is it hot! Six am starts and plenty of pumps and irrigation to fix...

Sunday, 19 June 2011


Start of the Summer Season at Quinta Stuart

Thanks to the elleven guests who turned up for the first Green Movie Night of summer 2011. We watched "Who Killed The Electric Car", about the GM conspiracy of destroying the most successful electric car of its time. Praise for the film came from all, as well as the three tonnes of home made pop corn that all got eaten....... how can you guys eat so much?

Next film night is on Saturday July 2nd, 8.30pm for the screening at 9pm. We will be showing "Food Inc.", exposing the incredible evil of food production. A handful of farmers produce virtually all the worlds food.. dictated by our mega chains of supermarkets. I promise to make even more popcorn. A donation of 5 euros is appreciated and there are plenty of cold drinks

It's getting better! Stu's latest bread

It has been a busy week at Quinta Stuart, volunteer Anna and Owl have got the whole place sparkling and with Rick Swanley we installed an air conditioning unit in the Cosy Cabin. Not quite eco I know but solved the hot box problem.

We were lucky to be given a big load of decking and have finished a deck under the main dining area and a funky path to the existing deck. We still have loads left!!

We extended The Tikka Bar, this section is to be named The Lizard Lounge (Come and be a lounge lizard at the Lizard Lounge!) After the peach tree has fruited we will deck this area as well.

Thanks to Uncle Tommy for the two sofas - yet another place for Stuart to fall asleep. Seems to be a bad year for mosquitos and I am trialing a neat unit from Leroy Merlin that emits a signal - 7 euros and no silly blue tablets (no viagra pun intended). With the tipi up, all the rooms finished, the pizza oven fired up we are ready for summer - come and see!!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Charcoal for Beginners, Apricots for Experts

Never a dull moment here on the farm, and when visitor Zimbo Rick (await your nickname all who enter here!!) offered to make us a charcoal kiln, we did not know how successful it would be.

The partly tamped wood releases its producer gas (the white smoke). Air traffic had to be diverted for three hours, man do these babies smoke!

As the smoke turns blue, we tamp all the air ducts and put rocks and soil on the lid, and wait twelve hours or so until it is 100% cool

Et voila, charcoal... our half an oil drum of wood yielded three full carrier bags of charcoal

Not just for BBQs, you can cook anything on it!

Using the rocket stove for another of Ricks impressive squid stews

Rocket stove at night, Stuart's delight

Given the amount of wood cooking systems, thought it was better to install five fire extinguisher points!!

Owl given a rare second off from playing with apricots to barmaid

One drawback with apricots is they tend to ripen all at the same time then have a very short shelf life

Dehydrating apricots for winter. They will freeze well for stewing and crumbles as well

NB Please note pictures of the opening party are on a previous blog, please click on the first entry for May in the right hand column