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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.

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…and We Still Ended Up Feeding the Fox!

Most of rural Portuguese households rely on buckets.  Buckets for wood, water, pine cones, clothes pegs/pins – you name it there will be a bucket for it.  We all use similar types of black buckets — ownership is usually interchangeable along with the contents. Occasionally, we  halfheartedly say we will color code them with tape on the handles according to ownership — it lasts about a month before our buckets are everywhere again.

However, we have a special bucket — bright orange with a lid.  This is for our kitchen waste.  We do not compost our food waste here for several reasons.  First, the smell, and the flies amplified by the heat and, second, composting encourages rats, mice and other vermin such as foxes.  We feel most of our food waste to the chickens and they give us eggs in return.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Moving House in Portugal

The Good — well, we did it — it took us awhile and happened in a very ramshackle manner. We moved ourselves with the help of a cast of extras. One ancient tractor, a front-loading “bin,” two borrowed trailers, the land rover, some Bulgarians, our neighbour Manuel and our friends Joachim and Zee.

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My Last Full Moon From Here

Last night, we had the most amazing nearly full moon, with the exact time of the full moon in the early hours of this morning when all sensible people are asleep — the light was excellent so I took the opportunity to snap away at our last full moon from this house.

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My Hometown: Vila Nova Milfontes

My hometown of Vila Nova in Portugal is situated on the mouth of the River Mira and was founded in 1485 by King John II. Its location at the mouth of the river means it has been strategically and economically important ever since.

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