Firstly, I apologies for the fact that my blogs are limping behind time. Somehow the happenings taking place seem to turn up so quickly and the time to write is so precious that my words desert me for a while.
So here we are in December and I write about the past September, but that’s life, it happens and not always the way we like or plan.
What’s the saying? ‘If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.’
But its not all that bad, here goes:
Our September turned out to be still Mid-Summer, just with slightly shorter days, which is a welcome relief; still no rain, still over 30 degrees.
It is also the month where the olive harvest for table, eating, olives starts here in this area. The Manzanillas are now ready to harvest just before turning purple and black. And when this happens, they are used for oil. Getting them harvested in their essentially unripe green state is crucial if we want to recoup the money spent on the spraying, pruning and paying pickers.
Here they do not eat black olives and the price for these is a lot lower than for the perfect, plump shiny green table olives. Mind you, they still need at least two months in brine before they are edible.
Nigel was lucky to get some Moroccans to help with the manual picking. This year we had also some women which are slower, but more careful when picking.
It is still hot, very physical and dusty work and six hours is all they do.
With the remaining black olives Nigel makes his home-made pure , unfiltered oil, which is on sale here at Casa Halcon. Together with my new venture, home-made soaps with natural ingredients. At the moment I am just playing with glycerine based soaps until I can source all the necessary ingredients to make a real soap from scratch.
Off to Lisboa
I got a surprise invitation to stay with my friend Fiona in Lisbon for two nights, coinciding with my birthday. She has started a new job that brings her to several cities in Europe, Lisbon being one.
It’s nice to get away and see some other view than olive trees and soak up another culture. As she is a wine aficionado this means visiting wine bars, of course, and why not?
And the two we attended were really a pleasure and surprise. ‘By The Wine’ [https://bythewine.pt/en/index.html (My photos didn’t do it justice, so look it up yourself)].
It has an amazing vaulted ceiling decorated with hundreds of wine bottle strung along the whole lengths of the bar and the food is as good as the wines. It has a lovely atmosphere, book in advance or come early to get a table.
The other was ‘The Old Pharmacy’ with a serious detailed wine list and prices that make your eyes water. But you can also just have a decent glass of wine without any pretence of wine knowledge and just enjoy the lovely old glass-fronted cabinets full of wine bottles. Again, the food is delicious, so make a nice evening out of it.
Both wine haunts were in walking distance of our hotel ‘Residencial Florescente’ in R. das Portas de Santo Antão 99, 1150-266, which had just been redecorated and we enjoyed a small suite with three little balconies.
This is a touristy area and has seemingly thousands of restaurants, so be a bit picky. They all appear to offer to the same dishes anyway; the Italian restaurant ‘Locanda Italiana’ just down the road was decent enough, good food, quick and friendly service.
Our first day we just walked around the old town and the seafront, the second day it was raining. For me a novelty after a whole six months without rain. So we boarded the tourist bus for a drive around the six hills of Lisbon, nearly missing our booked experience into the past.
There is one experience that I would recommend everyone to visit, it’s the QUAKE museum, Quake – Lisbon Earthquake Centre which is as far away from a standard museum as a fish soup is from the ocean. It is an immersive, interactive experience OF THE EARTHQUAKE in 1755 and you learn everything there is to know about earthquakes in general and how people then coped with their lives suddenly reduced to rubble. How were the relief efforts organised? You can actually make the decision sitting around a table with the then influential people like the mayor, architect and wealthy merchants.
https://lisbonquake.com/en-GB/about/quake-project (please paste and copy the links into your browser):
Here is one article you can download during your walk through 1755:
https://lisbonquake.com/en-GB/scanner/the-german-merchant or this one:
I have gained a deep respect for the city that is now Lisbon, the people that created this new old town and how this blueprint was used for many towns we take now for granted. It was a revolutionary effort. Go and experience it yourself:
R. Cais de Alfândega Velha 39, 1300-598 Lisboa, Portugal.
This is situated a little outside of the town in Belém, but bus or tram will bring you there easily.