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On Being AWOL: End of an Era in Pau

The second contributory fact for my 80 day absence was the premature closure of Mr P’s family house in PauMr P’s aged aunt’s health had deteriorated  to a stage where she needed more in-depth care than his equally elderly mother could provide.

We have always been aware that this situation would arrive in the near future — but were caught napping when it rapidly loomed upon us out of the blue and we had to take a dash to France.

Finding a suitable nursing home for elderly people is difficult at the best of times — finding one that accepts patients with Alzheimer’s, and provides compassionate understanding care for them, is even worse. Luckily, we had the help of one of Mr P’s brothers who took care of most of that for us . A deal was struck he would sort out their aunt and we would sort out their mother.

A suitable residence was found for their aunt, not far from where the brother’s family lives — which would enable him to visit her whenever he went to see his daughter and granddaughter.

We then had the task of packing up mother and her possessions and returning her to the apartment in Lisbon.

Continue reading → On Being AWOL: End of an Era in Pau

On Being AWOL: The Great 80 Day Internet Disconnect

You may have noticed that I have been absent a while — there are two reasons for this. The first was losing my internet lifeline — the first storm of the season rendered our already stressed internet connection null and void. 13 kilometers of line had to be replaced along with some of the electricity lines.

There is no rush here in Portugal to undertake such work — SAPO who own all the lines and infrastructure are next on the privatization list and do not want to invest in capital at present — the internet providers who have to use the infrastructure, and pay to do so, quite understandably have no desire to fix a problem that is not theirs.

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Apple, Apple and More Apple

Autumn is the time of harvest, and there is nothing more potent than apples as a sign of the move towards winter — especially in Europe.  Tomatoes and pumpkins and squash are considered summer fruits which might overlap into autumn — but the apple harvest signifies that autumn is here and winter is approaching.

Thanks to my over zealous neighbors, I have had nigh on a hundred buckets of apples to deal with over the past few months.

First were these red — almost purple beauties. We have been unable to find what exact variety these are. We do know that they are classified as “Heirloom Portuguese” and that the trees they came from are over 50 years old.

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Neighbors: Insight into Extended Family Life in Portugal

One of the unexpected delights of our move to this house has been getting to know our neighbors – they live over the field to the right of the house – they are the parents of our landlord and the lady of the house supplies our bread – and our pizza dough, and tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, apples, lettuce, onions, garlic, mushrooms and anything else we have use for.

To say they are farmers is to underrate their innate ability to work with the land and belittles the considerable skills and talents they possess throughout the whole family.

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The Hidden Waterfall in Villa Nova Milfontes: Here is the Key to the Gate — Just Follow the Track

There is a hidden waterfall “in” Villa Nova Milfontes – its location is a well-kept secret. It can be accessed in two ways – the first way being a long walk over farmland and, finally, down a steep hillside. Various permissions should be sought before crossing land and you have to be “in the know” as to how to get there.

The second way is to be given a key to a certain gate and be told to “follow the track” which meant we could visit by four-wheel drive car. Our neighbor and landlord has the magical key to the gate and agreed we could visit – they own the land around there. Even then it is not simple as you will find out.

Continue reading → The Hidden Waterfall in Villa Nova Milfontes: Here is the Key to the Gate — Just Follow the Track

Living with MRSA: Nearly Ten Years On

I have MRSA – to be specific I have HA-MRSA.  MRSA is a superbug – its full is name methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria – the HA denotes I contracted it in hospital – if I had contracted it outside of hospital it would be denoted CA-MRSA – community acquired MRSA.

Superbugs are a group of microorganisms that are resistant to at least one or more commonly used antibiotics.  The commonly accepted list of superbugs is as follows:

MRSA  – (Staphylococcus aureus strains resistant to multiple antibiotics) , VRE (Enterococcus species resistant to vancomycin), PRSP (Streptococcus pneumoniae strains resistant to penicillin), ESBLs (Escherichia coli and other Gram-negative bacteria resistant to antibiotics such as cephalosporins and monobactams) and multiple drug-resistant Clostridium difficile.

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What Can Be Done to Help the Syrian People?

There should be no doubt that the situation in Syria is beyond dreadful.  The country is torn apart by an escalating civil war in which chemical weapons have been used on an innocent populace. It has yet to be established which of the warring factions employed these weapons – it is presumed by many that it was government forces.

There is no doubt that they were used.  So who sold them?  Why are chemical weapons allowed to be manufactured and sold – especially to unstable countries?  When you sell a cooker – you know its going to be used for cooking – when you sell  a boat you know it is going to be used for sailing – when you sell a chemical weapon you now it is going to be used to attack, kill, maim and poison people.

It will not help those people who died in Syria last week – but I propose the United Nations grow a set of B*LLS  and ban the manufacture and sale of Chemical weapons and their constituent parts.

The British people spoke loud and clear last week when the government motion to join with the USA in attacking Syria was defeated in the House of Commons.

Continue reading → What Can Be Done to Help the Syrian People?