Category Archives: blog

Portuguese nature, part 2: Deforestation?

If you walk around in all that noise, it seems as if all the trees of Portugal have been brought here. Huge piles of large logs that are ready for processing, trucks full of wood, hard-working people and impressive machines. Everything is ready for the deforestation of the land.

Portugal and deforestation – what about that?

The entire country is full of forests, full of trees. It is only a certain species. The kind that is Useful. The kind that gives ROI (return on investment). So, eucalyptus. And pine trees. And in the south cork oaks, the name indicates its return already. From the first, paper is made, the second gives us pallets, scaffolding wood and furniture.

For the latter you have to wait a while. From deforestation to usable wood – that takes a while

Portuguese-nature-part-2-Deforestation

If we need wood, we go to the serração in Soure. A lot of those fully loaded trucks arrive there. In an incredible noise and with incredibly large machines, people turn it into shelves and pallets. And floorboards. They have a slot on one side, and a narrower piece on the other side that exactly falls into that slot. They call it “macho-femea” – I would like to leave this to your own imagination. I still find it a little embarrassing, although every builder knows the term. (Am I a prude?)

It is very handy to have such a pile of wood. Then it can dry

I now call it forest but in fact they are plantations. The eucalyptus remains for 9 years, and then goes to the paper mill. Pine trees grow a lot slower but still fast enough to be economically interesting. Thick planks and thin pallets are made of this.

And then we turn it into a beautiful dream kitchen cabinet! For instance.

We don’t really have a small kitchen. You can even say that we have a large kitchen, and yet while I’m cooking I sometimes whine about the space.

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That actually only happens if there are more people for dinner. Then you want to put your salad bowl somewhere (ready), your dressings (it only gets better with an hour), your dessert (that still needs to settle in) and you want the space to marinate your pork chops or soy or knead your dough a little comfortably.

And there the trouble starts with the lack of space, large kitchen or not

I have had an idea for a while about a beauty of a cupboard. It must cover an entire wall, with compartments large enough to accommodate everything from blenders, juicers, Römer topfs, kitchen towels – you name it. And then all those trays with little dessert bowls, salade bowls, dough that needs to rest, baking trays, all those things that are ready and in your way – also.

That’s why I walked around in the noise of the serração, because it starts there

blog_portuguese-nature-part-2-deforestationHopefully, because for the time being it’s no more than a wish, an idea and a pile of wood. Probably 3 pine trees died for that pile. I am very sorry, dear trees, we are going to do our best to make a Very Nice Kitchen Cabinet!

I’ll keep you posted!

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We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a https://www.termas-da-azenha.com/en/recreation/: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Surprise! Pet chicken fall from the sky

All of a sudden I sit here as an informal caregiver for a pirate chicken on one leg!

Strange things sometimes happen in Termas-da-Azenha. My son Broes and I walked to “the little houses” (next to the ElephantHouse is a refurbishment that serves as storage for anything and everything) to get something, when unexpectedly we saw a chicken lay in the grass.

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A real live chicken. With a panickey look in her eyes and her feathers all messed up

Aah! Hello you poor dear! How did you get here? Who? What? How? And especially: why?

I have a vague idea. It must have something to do with a dog. I thought I just saw the shadow of a tail disappear around the corner. Not really paying attention of course, because not prepared to find a chicken at my feet. Anyway, something had to happen here, because you don’t just step over the animal and go on to do your thingy.

Moreover, we had already forgotten the thingy we were going to do, so I carefully picked her up.

You don’t have to be afraid of a chicken, because they don’t bite. That’s for sure

Always loved chickens. They are so cozy. If they’re clucking softly among themselves; or if they loudly singing out their joy over a (finally!) laid egg; if they take a sand bath or if they run away for a rooster with obvious intentions – they’re cute and give you the idea that life is good.

Just. Good. No more. But back to the reality: there’s a chicken in my arms!

Fortunately we still have enough straw. And we still have a cot that, conversely, can serve as a henhouse. It looks like she hasn’t been damaged very badly. I bought chicken food at the grocery store in Vinha da Rainha, and asked on the way at the cafe and at the pastelaria if someone had accidentally lost a chicken.

No one. So far, no one has reported him- or herself as the rightful owner, so Chickie Carolina has been in her cot for a week. She has recovered well, but her right leg doesn’t want to do what it has to. I carefully checked, but there’s no broken bones or something else obviously wrong. We do physiotherapy together every day, when I have breakfast on the terrace behind the kitchen.

Chickie Carolina is studying for flamingo

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I try to talk cackle with her, but she’s the silent type. And I suspect that my cackling is not very good, because I regularly see her frowning when I try to say something. Yes, chickens can frown! Their eyes may be turned upside down in their heads (look carefully, they close their lower eyelids; the upper ones stay in place), but they can express all kinds of emotions.

If you now feel inspired and want a few chickens, here are a few things that are useful to know:

  • chickens are not so fond of being petted;
  • learning to cackle is not that easy;
  • chickens drink very little but kill for a leaf of lettuce;
  • they’re not vegetarians;
  • your dog will most likely not become close friends with your chicken(s);
  • when they feel threatened, they dive to the ground, spread their wings a bit and make themselves bigger and fluffy. Very moving.

I say: every depressed person a few chickens, and Big Pharma’s lost an important branch of its business in one fell swoop. It is impossible to stay depressed if there are a few chickens nearby. (Roosters aren’t necessary, by the way, so you can avoid that annoying cock-a-doodle-doo.)

I’m going to do physio again with my chickie. See y’all next week!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a https://www.termas-da-azenha.com/en/recreation/: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Life after the computercrash

I am sitting here rejoicing behind my “new” PC.

All computers were broken! Well, not all, but first the laptop, then the desktop. Man, that was a nice surprise, but-not-really. The laptop refused to do anything anymore start of the evening.

My work computer started ticking a little later.

Never a good sign, if something starts ticking, certainly not for computers. Crisis?

And after ticking for an hour, he quit quietly. Just like that. Without warning or nothing. Passed away. Dead. Nothing more to do.

You’re surprised by that, can you imagine?

What does a person do in such a case?

This person immediately calls for help from behind the “Iron Curtain”. In the reception hangs a curtain, where the work computer is stationed (and me as well). Behind the “Iron Curtain” has always been the domain of “the boys”. My two boys, plus friends. There were about 5 boys sitting at a long table for years, and the reason for that curtain seems very clear, especially for people who also have children: it was a pigsty.

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Sorry, ugly word, but very appropriate

It is now slightly better. There are now only 2, sometimes 3 boys (and well, they’re not boys anymore, they’re in their mid-twenties). That makes a difference.

Anyway, if there’s something with my computers that I can’t solve myself, I call in help from behind the Iron Curtain. Son Broes emerged sighing, muttering incomprehensible things about morons of mothers who don’t know anything about … but soon had to admit that there was Force Majeure here.

The computer was really and completely dead. The computer crash was a fact

My work computer was assembled by Hugo, who’s been living here for years. One of the 5 boys. Hugo has been messing around for as long as we know him with mopeds, cars, computers, and all kinds of electrical appliances. If something crashes, his name quickly comes up.

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Very handy to have him around, especially in connection with a computer crisis!

The diagnosis was quickly made. We have a somewhat unstable electricity network here, mostly above ground, and that causes peaks and troughs. The failure is taken care of by my UPS because computers don’t like to be turned off without the proper procedures. It deals with most failures.

But the contrary – overload – is much more difficult to handle. It sometimes happens that lightning strikes the network. We don’t often have a thunderstorm here, but when that happens, it can happen that it hits. You can’t do much to prevend that.

Well, long story short: that was it. And dust. And wear (he was already 4 years old – that’s about 136 in computer years)

The bad thing is that I last backed up in June. So from this summer everything is gone. “We can do something about it,” Hugo said cheerfully, “I can put two SSDs in it, then it automatically backs up. And the laptop gets a new hard disk.” That made me a little more cheerful, because such a shame that all the photos from the summer are gone!

The SSDs plus hard disk were ordered from PCDiga. Guaranteed delivery after 24 hours. Top!blog_surviving-a-computercrash

Small recoil: the SSDs were mounted, but then the powersupply also failed. Hm. Same tune: order, wait hopefully. Then, when the whole thing could run again, the fan was labeled as (s)crap, better to put a new one. “Otherwise it will catch fire within half an hour.”

I don’t know what they thought at PCDiga …

Anyway, ends well, all’s well. I’m rejoicing. Laptop works again, desktop works again, and The-One-Beside-Me also got a new fan, because it started ticking – to make it all more exciting – too. Exactly at the time that it was the only working computer (at least, one that falls under my authority, because I may not even get in the neighbourhood of the boys’ computers).

I’m happy. Just. That. What does a person do without a computer nowadays?

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a https://www.termas-da-azenha.com/en/recreation/: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Computercrash

Alas! All wrong this week. No blog, my apologies. First, the laptop had a heart attack and then the work computer went down.

Now it’s improvising on “The One Next To Me” until the new SSD plus will arrive, the new fan and the new power supply.

But next week I can write a blog with superpowers and super speed!

Good Sunday everyone!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Traffic in Portugal: bumper stickers and priority givers

Traffic is traffic you’d say

Yes, true, but it is just a little bit different everywhere.

And because you (probably) don’t drive your own car, you naturally drive a little more carefully.

Hopefully this helps to make you feel confident behind the wheel.

Point One: the roads are not too good

Certainly in the direction of Soure, there is plenty of bumpin’. So don’t drive too fast, because the car can only take so much.

What many Portuguese people do (including me): drive in the middle of the road, you’ll miss all the potholes and treeroot marks on the side. Only when you see an oncoming car coming you go to your own side. (We drive on the right side of the street, by the way ;))

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Brings me to the following point:

anticipatory driving. Driving is of course about rules, but there are very few people here (read: police) who pay attention to this. So it’s mainly about whether you take your responsibility. If you don’t have much experience yet, it might be a bit trickier, but a good exercise.

Look ahead and calculate what your fellow road users will do.

(And what the road is going to do, because sometimes a bend seems to be a piece of cake, but once you get in it’s quite a challenge!)

That was once a lot more difficult, because in the past you could experience that a farmer just drove his old Ford with 30 kilometers unexpectedly onto the main road. Without looking up or down.

You’ll not experience that anymore. Those people are extinct, and their shiny vintage Fords too. The new generation drives around in neat new cars, all of which still have to be paid off, so they won’t do any of those tricks. They’re instead very careful – with their own car.

Tail gating

Many of our foreign guests complain about that exciting habit. And yes, I get it, because I’ve already had one on the back twice. That is never your fault, but annoying because of all the hassle that you get over you immediately. Filling out insurance papers is nobody’s hobby.

The first time it happened to me was because I was braking in a reflex for a dog that jumped onto the road just before my van. Now that is a rarity, and you always respond well with your brake reflex, but the lady behind me wasn’t paying attention.

Braked but slipped (this point will come back later).

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Important point: what can you do about tail gating?

In fact: nothing. If you find it really annoying, and you notice that it makes you nervous, then just continue to breathe, and find a place to get out of the way. Grumbling, swearing and becoming nervous will not help you and your life (and that of your passengers) forward in a positive way.

Just continue at your own pace, and keep on smiling. Don’t be tempted by a power game.

Rain

With rain everything becomes different. We don’t have that wonderful asphalt here that you have in the north. The portuguese asphalt becomes slippery with rain or high humidity. That means that you have to drive a little slower, and especially in the winds and curves and bends. (We have a lot of those here!)

If you feel that you are going into a slip:

remain calm, steer a bit to the other side(don’t exaggerate) and especially don’t brake too hard. Then you definitely go in a slip. If you feel that you no longer have control of your car, you start pumping brakes. To me it seems a clear term, but for the sake of clarity: a moment to brake and then let go, and that a number of times in succession. You can also apply the parking brake. Moderately.

Snow, frost and associated slippery conditions – we don’t do those things here.

Boom means stop

Sun in your eyes! In the summer you won’t be bothered by that, because then the sun’s nice and high, but otherwise it can be pretty annoying, that sun. A good pair of sunglasses and your sunscreen down helps of course, but sometimes you go – just sayin’ – with the rising sun to the pastelaria, to buy fresh bread. Or you want to see the sun sink into the ocean. In both cases you will no longer be able to see anything because of the angle of the sun.

Then don’t drive too fast and in the middle of the road, because then you only know that there are cyclists and hikers on the road when you feel and hear a boom.

What the Portuguese don’t / do in traffic

I’ve rarely seen people use their flashing lights on a roundabout. Flashing lights are being used less and less often. Very annoying if you are waiting or holding back, because you are so nicely anticipatingly driving but have gambled wrong.

Portuguese drive fast. Don’t be tempted to participate if you don’t have your driver’s license for that long. Speeding is quite an art. And not everyone understands that art …

If anyone only looks at a pedestrian crossing, you stop. That’s common, and it’s considered incredibly rude when you drive on. If you really saw it too late, make an apologetic gesture.

The Portuguese are in fact quite polite, also in traffic. We would like to keep it that way, because the bluntness with which people drive in the north is not something you should want.

Priority is given. Let another person go before you and smile. It makes you feel so much better!

Velocidade controlada

Nowadays you’ll find these signs in many places, in combination with a series of traffic lights. If you go faster than 50, the traffic light turns red. You never know if a camera is attached to it, so too bad.

On the way to Coimbra you’ll encounter these a few times.

It is compensated by the fact that you’ll see all traffic lights in Coimbra equipped with a counter. Very handy. This way you can chill out smoothly, because it still takes 68 seconds for you to turn green again.

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Smart driving

Undoubtedly an unnecessary paragraph. Your phone is comfortable in its little corner, and you’ll see all chat messages on arrival.

Now, all the above reads as if you really have to be aware of all kinds of things, driving in Portugal. Not true. It was just to prepare you for some minor changes you will encounter. I hope it helps you to get behind the wheel of your (rental) car confidently and prepared!

Drive safely!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Jogging volunteers and other pleasant things

“Did you know that I was almost arrested for harassment?” Paul asks with a mischievous look in his eyes. “Oh,” I almost recoile but laughing, “do I have to worry now, lock my door at night?”

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He dismisses my remark, clearly looking forward to the story:

“It was when I lived in Nijmegen (Holland), and was jogging there

Every day. I always put my coat and stuff in a little hole in the park, and then I set off. And then I took my coat out of that little hole again, and everything was very easy that way.”

I already laugh because I see him doing it. And it also makes sense. Why would you wear a coat when you go jogging? Why would you not hide it in a little hole because you will need it again afterwards when you walk home? Then you cool off, and you need the protection of your coat.

There is more: “Buhut! On a beautiful day, when I came jogging back to fetch my stuff, suddenly a group of women sat close to my little hole

So when I ran towards them, they were startled – I couldn’t do anything about it, I just didn’t notice – and they started cackling … “and now he really has a sparkle of misschief in his eyes: “… like chickens cackling to each other when they’re hysterical.”

By the way, Paul is a real gentleman. An almost extinct breed. One that will always keep the door open for you, who’ll speak to you patiently even if you come up with the weirdest things, and will never raise his middle finger in traffic.

Very old-fashioned, with good upbringing.

I just wanted to throw that in, that there was nothing fishy in that little hole. Just a jacket

Because yes, a gentleman only jogs in the park. Not in the streets. That’s weird. You don’t do that.

“What are you doing here?! What do you want in that little hole?!” Paul meanwhile continues his story, “they were screaming and pointing, and I just came to get my coat. They just got in the way, nothing more.”  This story is infused with entertainment, but also with indignation. Even after all these years. That they could think that he …

“They called the police, can you believe it?! I received a warning. I still didn’t quite get it. What’s so bad about a man hiding his coat in a little hole in the park?”

It is now the fourth time that Paul has been here. I call him Paulie, after one of the characters in “The Godfather” – one of the films I definitely should see, according to Paulie. The first time he came as a volunteer was in 2013, and did a great job on the ElephantHouse. Socially as well; the boys watched a lot of football together.

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We know each other now. I know that those innocent blue eyes are really innocent, and that this story is about finding a handy hiding place for a useful thing that you will need again later.

A so-called cunning plan

I have to laugh really hard at this story. I can see it right before my eyes: a group of suspicious women who think the worst of a man who is acting a bit weird, and just a little too close.

Uncomfortable for everyone, while it wouldn’t have been necessary at all if your thinking is based on the goodwill of your fellow man. But – a nice story afterwards. My belly hurts from laughing about this idiotic situation.

Would that be the effect of “watching the news”? That you’re looking for something behind everything, because you always hear the rotten-apple-stories?

What do you think? I’m curious!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Forensic students in the house!

“Forensic” is a bit of a mysterious word for me. It is probably because it’s full of forensic teams as soon as a crime has to be solved … in the thrillers that I like to read from time to time.

Forensic studies is a broad concept. Luckily. The mystery doesn’t reveal itself quickly.

Why should I be afraid to unravel this mystery? Well, we have a group of interns in the house who are discovering all sorts of things for three months. After all, they are future scientists. They must know things.

Forensic students on investigation

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These students have been here for almost two months now. They’re already halfway through their internship, which lasts a total of three months. It is fairly intensive, I think, not only because of your studies and assignments, but also because of being together. You live for three months with people you previously hardly knew.

The internship supervisor thought it would be a good idea if there was a Dutch owner at the internship location

Good thought! Portuguese is a very complicated language to learn, and unless you have a big talent for languages, it won’t work in 3 months. Especially because you also have to do all kinds of other things of course.

I suspect that forensic studies don’t require such a talent, but rather a beta brain

Now this group hasn’t lived under a rock, so they’re fine. They also write a blog every week from their personal perspective, which among other things describes the experience of digging out a burnt tree, an interview with the fire brigade and a trip to Coimbra. They’re fine.

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I have read their blogs with some restraint, because I want so badly to keep the mystery that for me is in the word “forensic”. I’m not a scientist like them, I’m more of a dreamer. If you don’t know what something means, you can fantasize about it so nicely.

I can heartily recommend the blogs (and the rest)!

They are amusing, nicely written, and give a good idea of what the life of a forensic trainee is like abroad. (If you’re interested: you can put them in Google Translate, because they’re written in dutch, of course). You get a bit wiser from those blogs, but the mystery has been maintained. Very nice. What I now know more than before is that insects have to watch their steps, because as soon as a beetle in their blissfull innocence would walk into their house, it will be put in a jar immediately. To study it.

I would find that so sad for such a beautiful rhino beetle …

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I can keep on dreaming. And they get to know everything. Well, maybe not everything, but a lot.

You can’t have it any better!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Tai Chi Chuan has landed in Portugal

If I were a cook, I would probably be the thinnest cook in the world.
After a whole week of cooking, I am full of food smells. It already starts in the morning after breakfast, because the group wants to have a warm lunch. Following the good Portuguese example.

It’s Friday now, the last day of the (dutch) Tai Chi group

The group comes here to do intensive training. Far from civilization, no chance to escape! Tai Chi boot camp.

It already starts before breakfast with a session on the FairyTaleTerrace. Practicing Tai Chi means concentration, all movements are figured out. And then your balance … it can take years to learn everything.
Hence an intensive training week.

The teachers wear a special suit. Chic though!

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They would train a lot outside. No problem, because we have almost one hectare at our disposal. The camping field, the field behind the swimming pool and the FairyTaleTerrace soon become their favorites. They just aren’t so lucky with the weather. Sunday was acceptable, but on Monday it started to rain.

Now it never rains for days in a row in Portugal, so that makes a difference, but the grass is wet of course. Fortunately it’s warm for the time of the year. 21º is fine.

We would cook for them that week

Now I am a fairly unstable cook. When my settings are on “cooking”, like in summer, it goes fine, naturally, I throw just the right herbs in the right amount on delicious dishes. But now I was in mosaic mode, and I don’t really care about food.

This was a bit of a challenge, but luckily there is enough experience to nevertheless put a nice meal on the table. And as the week progresses, we get a kind of routine, my son Broes and me. The only thing that I still find difficult is to start – for example – pulling broth at 9 o’clock in the morning. Then your entire kitchen smells like a winter Sunday afternoon, while it is still summery and early Tuesday morning.

Your biological clock just gets confused!

Normally I eat yogurt with fruit and muesli for lunch, but now my receptors no longer want to participate. They have something like: yeahyeah, byebye, that doesn’t fit together at all, that curry scent and chewing cold kiwi. And in the evening I am so full of all the food smells that I’m no longer hungry. Hence: I would be the thinnest cook in the world.

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Wednesday they went on an excursion to Coimbra

A short training session in the morning, an early lunch, and then with the slow train to Coimbra. They would do a session in the Jardim Botânico – a nice place in the center. I had advised to dine at “A Cozinha da Maria”, in one of the charming alleys near the station, and that advice was followed. Enthusiastic messages the next day! “A Cozinha da Maria” is really worth it!

“We couldn’t come in at first” Matthea tells me, “but when I spied through the window, I saw them in their underwear – they were changing to start their shift!” We laugh together, charmed by such a lovely scene.

And luckily they didn’t mind that Broes and I were in charge of the kitchen here…. “A Cozinha das Termas” is apparently not so bad either!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Portuguese nature, part 1: chicory

It doesn’t often happen that I think on Friday: “Oh dear, the blog, what should the blog be about?” – but that is the case this week. Usually the subject presents itself. Matter of writing it down. This time I couldn’t figure it out. Everything blank.

Maybe it’s because there are a lot of things happening at the same time this week.

Just back from the Netherlands for a four-day visit to my oldest son, and to the rest of the family, I could immediately start cleaning and mowing. We’re preparing for the upcoming Tai Chi week. A group from Delft who will train in various formations inside, outside, on the campsite and in Choupal (Coimbra – more on that later).

Beautiful plan, but especially the field behind the pool is full of chicory

Chicory grows spontaneously here. Wherever you want it, and also where you don’t want it. We always keep the grass on the campsite at an acceptable level, so they have no chance there. But nobody actually comes on the field behind the pool, so I leave them there.

Why? Chicory flowers have a very beautiful color, and butterflies love it

Furthermore, it is an annoying nasty plant. They cannot be eradicated, and you break your legs over their stems, because they often grow low over the ground. When the donkeys were alive, they also ate around it. No way they would eat that!

Of course they have the reputation that you can make coffee from chicory, but I’m convinced that this must be a horrible drink. You only drink it if there’s no alternative.

But the color blue … it’s beautiful. You can only find such beautiful colors in nature. Of course I have already mowed everything, and only then got the idea to write a blog about it, but here you have an impression:

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I thought it would be a good idea to mow everything completely to ground level, because I certainly do not know everything about Tai Chi, but I think I remembered seeing trainees slide their feet over the ground with slow movements, so I already saw it happening … a smothered cry, and there someone goes – flat on their face … no good for your health and/or concentration!

In that respect, they ‘ll be well off in Choupal

There you find huge old trees, ditto bushes (okay, not that old) and nicely raked squares of very fine and light gravel. The botanical garden of Coimbra is always on the to-do list of every tourist, but I like Choupal much better.

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It is right next to the river (the Mondego) where your children can play with all the big rocks, and make a dam. Just sayin’. It’s nice and quiet. There are not many tourists, only portuguese people. There are picnic benches – and if you bring your own wifi, you could have a lovely work space there too.

Pronto. I’m done advertising for Choupal!

Moving on! On with the shopping, making menus, cleaning rooms, arranging the big room, putting drinks in the fridge. Tomorrow morning we’ll sweep the terraces (always a last-minute job) and then we’re completely ready for it.

Welcome to Tai Chi your heart out!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

Portuguese culture, part 1: the shutters

We drive through small villages, all known territory. The road to Coimbra has been driven so often, but not so often at night. Between the small villages it’s pitch dark. The crescent moon is very small, it hardly gives any light.

All houses are dark. Shutters closed

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That is not much different than during the day, then all shutters are also often closed. Sometimes you see a house with an open shutters, that is, a gap of about 30 centimeters at most, so that some light enters.

I have still not picked up the ins and outs of the shutter phenomenon

Once, I went with a colleague (20 years ago I worked in an estate agency) during the day to pick something up. “We’re almost passing by, it’s only a small detour, then you can see how I live!”

The atmosphere was like a castle in his house – in the semi-darkness you could still see the huge fireplace with two large armchairs in front. The rest was covered in mysterious shadows, because all the shutters were closed, obviously. “Wow, you live really nice!”

Shutters, incredibly popular in Portugal. Why do you have them and what do you do with them?

The whole concept is completely strange to me. I can’t imagine that I would ever live in a house with shutters. I would feel incredibly locked up, because you can’t just open those buggers.

An old friend (literally old) lived in a house with shutters. At the end, she hardly ever got to the top floor anymore, so it was almost always closed. I continue to find it strange to step into a twilight world, from a radiant day with an eye-pinching sun, where anything suddenly could happen.

We were always chatting in her kitchen, but one day she needed something upstairs. If I please would come with her. But of course, you just tell me what to do.

Upstairs I was struck by the same atmosphere that closed shutters apparently carry with them

That hint of mystery, that slightly exciting semi-darkness, the suspicion of amazing discoveries – I don’t think that a thriller is about to start here, but rather a psychological development of the main characters of this story.

And that indeed started, because everything that came to the surface brought back memories. From the old friend of course. Those shutters ensured that beautiful stories came out that afternoon.

In the Casa Principal of Termas-da-Azenha, where we started our history in our small village, we had wooden shutters. On the inside. That gives a very different atmosphere. You actively exclude the outside world. In the case of rain and storm that’s very pleasant.

When it is a full moon, you can leave them open and enjoy the soft light before you fall asleep

Closed wooden shutters do not provide such a mysterious atmosphere. Maybe because you know you can open them any time you want. And that is different with those nasty shutter straps.

All the shutters were closed to all the houses we drove past last night. I’m used to it now, but there is always the question of holidaymakers who don’t have the experience: “Are those houses inhabited?” Because they remain closed during the day too. And on the weekend too. They simply never open – and if they do, only for these 30 centimeters.

Just like me, most of our guests come from the country where people live in fish bowls – everything is always open. The Netherlands. When the sun starts to shine: everything will be opened. In the evening everyone in the living room with all the lights on: curtains and everything open.

I did exactly that in the beginning. But you are very quick to change that! When the sun starts to shine in summer: close everything, and go inside. Naturally the same with rain. The portuguese way: have lunch together: inside. Turn on TL, turn on TV, close shutters.

Every culture has its own brand. The Shutter phenomenon is just as Portuguese as bacalhau. The following applies to both: you must get used to it!

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<< previous

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

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