Tag Archives: holidayhouses

Volunteer Raquelli Pirelli

“I will check the train again, okay?” I say, while going out the door, “pretty sure that we can find everything on www.cp.pt. It’s quite easy!”

She’s going to the south, it’s too cold here now. If you’re coming from Gran’ Canaria, a tropical island, than you’re not used to cold.

It’s winter now. When they came 6 weeks ago, it was still summer

A sunny winter with almost no rain. During the day it’s wonderful, but when the sun goes down, you have to find your sweater and your vest. Still, always laughing, always positive, although she wears almost all her clothes at the same time.

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A few days later, I get a phone call. A spanish number. Could it be volunteer … ?

“Hey Ellen!”, a woman’s voice cheers through the speaker, “how are you doing?” Ah! I thought so, it’s Raquel. It’s not such a big succes, over there, and she tells me about it. She thought it was a couple, but it appears to be a man alone. “He’s a nice man, but he does such strange things! He wants to control everything, I have to eat when he says so, even if I’m not hungry, but I have to make my own food. He works long hours, and expects that from me as well. There’s no internet, so that’s why I called. I tried for a week now, but I don’t like it here very much.”

Now she’s almost in tears, so I tell her, that if necessary, she’s always welcome here. “He’s not a bad guy, you know, but he is so … so rude, so insensitive. He wants that I follow him like a dog, and do everything he says. And he takes a bath with the door open. No, no, it’s not like that …I feel completely safe …  he just wants to be in control. So weird.”

Yes, that is quite weird, and quite insensitive

This is not the first weird volunteer experience. The first one, only 2 months ago, was superweird, on a quinta where you were expected to work 12 hours a day – as a volunteer. And hard work as well, digging and wood chopping.

That’s not how it’s meant to be. The second host was very nice, an adorable older english woman, but she talked very much and very fast, all day long. Raquels travelling partner didn’t understand english, only spanish, so all the talking was directed to her.

She was exhausted at the end of the day, because of all the conversation

Yes, I can imagine. Also: admirable. How do you do that, talking all day long? Then they landed here, and stayed for 6 weeks. We built a lovely routine very fast. They preferred to work from 8 till 3, fine with me. We had dinner every night, and for the rest it was harmonious and agreeable.

“I loved that so much, Ellen. I’m going to see if I find something here in the south, but if not, I’m coming to you”, she says, “I’ll let you know tomorrow.”

Her travelling partner Desi, went to another place, because there are not so many hosts accepting volunteers now. It’s december, people are warming up for Christmas, and on the farms is not so much to do. As in the holidayhouses-bussiness.

The next day I pick her up from the nearby trainstation. There was nothing to be found, everybody is relaxing, preparing for Christmas, so: “I came back! I’m going to be a volunteer again, and to search for a place here. You have a steady connection at least!” she says radiantly, full of good intentions.

But there is nothing to be found as a volunteer

It seems as if the whole world slows down a notch in December.

“I found a cheap ticket”, she says the next morning, “I’ll go home, to Gran’ Canaria. My mother is soooo happy! And my brother as well!”

Good decision. Not only you will celebrate Christmas in the sun, but also in the warm presence of your family.

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Merry Christmas to you all! And for the ones who don’t “do” Christmas: Happy Holidays!

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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 portugal’s cultural heirlooms. Termas da Azenha, a old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and camping ground, there’s also a swimming pool. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere. The old bathhouse is a museum, where you can see how things have changed.

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 Google+, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

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Presents

There are many people who leave things behind. Usually these are things like olive oil, salt & pepper, open bags of pasta, milk, cheese, a few eggs … “It’s a pity to throw away,” they say, “and you can still use it, can’t you? Otherwise you have to discard it.”

I wholeheartedly agree with them, “We will take care of it, thank you.”

The only thing I throw away is margarine. I think that, sorry to say, is horrible. But the rest lands in our kitchen, so at the end of the summer I always have a lot of bottles of olive oil, and pepper and salt, and so forth.

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In one or other weird way, it helps me to cope with nostalgia of the summer that’s past

Because yes, it’s one thing people come, but they will be going again. Now with some people it’s worse than with others, but it’s quite an art to say goodbye. What I found strikingly this summer is that everybody was here until last.

Huh? How do you mean? Surely they are here untill last

No, not true. Many people are already preparing or packing a few days before, or already busy with the trip, planning,  the next destination, or they’re mentally already at home.

Could it be that lots of people lead a mindfuler life?

It will come up sometimes, only sometimes. A single lady of 45+  sighed a few days before leaving: “Ooooo, I do not want to go away … I do not want to go home at all … it’s just as nice here, waking up with the birds …. “

I replied firmly:” But it’s not over yet, it takes another eternity before you go home again … and there you have a nice life, right? “

“Certainly, sure,” she said with a bit of excitement, “but my basement is waiting for a cleanup, and I do not really like that, cleaning and sorting everything out”,  but apparently a light started burning: “but hey, there I still have a stock of wool, so I can use that to make more felt. “

“Ha!” I call for a moment, “Look carefully, and see what you’re up to … and, dragging things to the eco ponto, or maybe to the secondhand store might be a burden, but you’re  A / doing us all a favour, and B / you’re helping a poor fellow being who is happy with your stuff.”

After this conversation, we both continued:

I’m cleaning, and she’s making felt in bathroom 14. There is a marble massage table and there is hot water, and that seems to make it all work, if you  want to make felt. The whole process hasn’t become completely clear to me, but as a farewell gift I got the patch she made here, and I think it’s very pretty with all those blues.

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And I got more (goodbye) presents

Sweet! A children’s violin, a skirt with flowers, a beautiful red bowl, a very nice pot of honey, homemade blackberry jam (twice even), flipflops, a book (title: I’ll be back – a hint), a very nice drawing, and a geranium.

Part of the mother geranium is left in a place where this group of friends had a good time. That is of course a huge responsibility for someone like me, who doesn’t have green fingers. Fortunately, it has red flowers, and gerania are known for their enormous joy of life.

Of course I’m very happy about that

You understand that. My sentimental self is completely moved and whispers softly: “Thank you, and all I want is that you have a good time …” – that’s probably the piece of mother-who-only-thinks-of-others that is still in me, because that was the example my old mother gave me. Of course we all got a lot tougher. You’d never say this, but still …. secretly it’s true.

Last but not least: my son’s gift

That does not happen often, so I’m really happy with that. But …. it’s a cactus, and he looks like this:
blog_presents_Termas-da-Azenha

 

How should I interpret this now?

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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 portugal’s cultural heirlooms. Termas da Azenha, a old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and camping ground, there’s also a swimming pool. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere. The old bathhouse is a museum, where you can see how things have changed.

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 Google+, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

You like? Please like! And sharing is not forbidden ....

Happy birthday, we wish you a long life

“What do you actually sing in Belgium?” Maddy asks, after blowing out her candle, “long may she live” –  as well?”

“Yes, I believe it’s the same all around the world,” Anne replies, our polish/belgium guest, “in Belgium and in Poland we sing the same song.”

We have a birthday, including birthday dinner

 

It happens a few times every year, that someone has their birthday when they’re here. For children we hang slingers, make a ball of balloons and sing it The Song. With adults it can be a little more complicated …

For adults, the Big Day already arrived so many times, there isn’t much excitement about it left. And many people also don’t like to grow older, but – very inconsistent – do like to celebrate their birthday. Now I’m a fan of inconsistency, because otherwise life becomes too straightforward, but this is a bit strange, isn’t it?

“How does it feel, being 50?” Anne asks Maddy, “do you like it?” “Oh, it’s no different than yesterday,” she laughs, “I’m not in trouble, it’s still fun to grow up. LongmayIlive!”

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Happy birthday, we wish you a long life

Do you know much about “having a long life” when you become 5? Only if you add a zero, you may think about it.

The family of one of our camping guests have probably said that to him too often –  that they want him to have a long life. He has grown over 2 meters.

He took it literally

Over 2 meters is tall even for a Dutchman. In a country like Portugal you become very noticeable. I always see people on the Sunday market in Louriçal with astonishment respond to our guests; especially the smaller, older portuguese are impressed by our length. Me too – I had to get used to it, towering over everyone, but I’m average height, 1.76m. In Holland, it’s nothing special.

In the beginning, I tried to go by unnoticed by keeping my knees crooked, without anyone seeing it. Of course, that works only for a few centimeters and a short period of time. And if you exaggerate it, it is particularly noticeable – surely for your much shorter and therefore sensitive male conversation partner!

The previous generations of Portuguese are around 1.60 or a little more. On the market, you can easily pick out the Dutch.

The best reaction ever

Our guest “Father Longlegs” was waiting for a little bit with his slightly less tall but still impressive partner in a pastelaria, when a mother and her little boy came in. All people present had been very busy to pretend not to watch the tall guy, but they had never seen such a giant of 2.12 in their long-lasting life, so that was very exciting. They did so much their best not to stare.

The boy broke that tension by looking up at Peter without any shame. “What’s this? you saw him thinking, “Beautiful! So giants really exist!!” And by his unconfined admiration for such an incredibly tall man, everyone broke into a liberating laughter.

Of course we didn’t attend this scene, but we tried to reconstruct it. And I think we succeeded. My first thought to this photo was:

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“Oi, how small can you be?”

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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 portugal’s cultural heirlooms. Termas da Azenha, a old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and camping ground, there’s also a swimming pool. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere. The old bathhouse is a museum, where you can see how things have changed.

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 Google+, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

 

You like? Please like! And sharing is not forbidden ....

FancyDressingRoom fantasy blog order

It’s still quiet.


But it’s a mess. The last users of the FancyDressingRoom didn’t commit to Rule Number One: Leave the FDR nicely for the next ones. We agree on that everyone is hanging the clothes back neatly, and put the shoes back in the rack. That’s normally not so easy for children, and usually they’re helped by their parents. Most of the time it’s put there a bit sloppy, but when it’s hanging already, it’s faster to correct than when everything’s lying on the ground.

So I’m grumbling a bit while I hang all glitter dresses and put the high heels in the rack.

All dolled up with nice clothes in the FancyDressingRoom

 

“Oh why is everything on the floor now?” a clear voice asks suddenly at the entrance, “What a pity! Hey, there’s my dress!” I am pleasantly surprised, this is a girl who’s always complied to the deal we made and has a lot of fun in dressing. She can do the same things like me, with thát dress on thát hanger and thát blouse there: “Than the colours are matching.”

I put up big white sunglasses with wings, look over it and say with a high-pitched exaggerated voice: “So, girl, what are you doing here so early? What are you doing?”

FancyDressingRoom_Termas-da-Azenha-blog

She plays the game straight away, grabs a hat and answer: “I’m going to dress up, Mrs Donuts, because I want to write a story.”
“Oh, how nice,” I say with my normal voice, “Do you write stories? Me too.”

And there I suddenly get an order

“Ha, then you have to write a story for me,” she commands, “it has to cover a gnome.”
“Oh, easy,” I say immediately, “We’ve got tons of those here, I just saw one hide under that plant just outside the door. I think they’ve done my dishes just now.”
She laughs: “Then they’ve to come to our house, because my dad doesn’t like that there is no dishwasher. He says: why do I have to do this, I have 2 dishwashers! But we are still too small.”

“Oh, you’re kidding!” I say, “Do you know how small gnomes are?”
“Yes, sure, so big,” and she starts with her hand next to her shoulder, but with my disbelieving face she goes down next to her knee. “I’ve seen them here too! And now my story!”

FancyDressingRoom_Termas-da-Azenha-blog

 

“Okay, just imagine”

I say, “I think they’ve had a meeting here recently, to talk about whether they’re going to continue to help people or not. There are too many people and children who do not even believe they exist. And there’re a lot of people who own those robots. “
“Oh, such a hoover that is cleaning by itself! We have that one at home! And our cat loves it!” she claps her hands with enthusiasm, “I don’t like that people don’t believe in gnomes. But they don’t come to our house now, can you ask them?”

“Robots or gnomes, it’s one of the two,” I say, “that’s maybe bad news, but that was the outcome of their meeting.”
“Uh, oh, she looks to the ground thinking, and comes up with the solution:” Maybe they could do just like our cat, and play with it …. drive around the room at night, maybe they might just like to make fun? Like our cat? “

I think it’s a genius idea

“I’ll write it on a letter with goblet ink and leave it in a jar at the place of their gathering,” I smile, “let’s see what they do. What do you think?”
“Surely they’ll do it,” she confidently says, “if I was a gnome, I would do that, but it is a secret.”

Resolved perfectly. Reality and fantasy stuck together. Thank you, girlfriend!

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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 portugal’s cultural heirlooms. Termas da Azenha, a old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and camping ground, there’s also a swimming pool. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere. The old bathhouse is a museum, where you can see how things have changed.

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 Google+, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

You like? Please like! And sharing is not forbidden ....

Forest Fire

This blog is about the fire, it couldn’t be about anything else. It was only a few days ago that the national mourning ended, and that our own tsunami of “How-are-you-doing” ceased.  

Forest fire is a part of living in Portugal

a-helicopter-above-a-fire

At least, from time to time. In recent years it was less common because it was always a nice temperature – about 25º. Ideal!  The swimming pool is doing well at 25º, the plants are do well and I’m singing.

If  it gets warmer, like last week when we reached the 37º, the risk of fire increases per degree. Now it’s very rare for the coastal region to get that hot.

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The last time I can remember is definitely 15 years ago

 

We also experienced forest fire once. “The fire of 2005”, we still call it because it’s very impressive. It started in a circle around us with plumes of smoke on the horizon. You think: oh, that’s far away. It’s just a little worrying.

But then it spread to Moinho de Almoxarife, 5 kilometers away. The wind spreads the fire,  it crawls over the grass and its sparks fly through the sky. With us it’s a weird situation: on one side of the road there is not much going on, because there you are at the edge of the fields. And there the water flows.

On the other side of the road, the hills begin. Our terrain runs to the top of the hill, where the neighbor’s eucalyptus plantation begins. Luckily he just planted many small trees. We had a mini forest on our hill.

I developed a boundless respect for the fire brigade

the-jeep-of-the-commander-coming-around-the-corner

They knew exactly what they were doing. The commander drives around in his jeep, keeps an eye on everything, and gives his orders. They keep an eye on the houses, and if they are at risk, they will extinguish, taking into account the wind and the speed of the fire.

During that time they came to refill in a nearby basin, so we had  firemen around at all times. At some intervals they stopped, dropped out of the car, and we brought them cold beer and toast so they could go on. Three days in a row.

I’ve been looking at the burning forest with a few firefighters, where they explained that they couldn’t do anything, that you have to let some parts go. Ok, I understand that. And also: it’s all coordinated, if an aircraft drop it’s load, you don’t have to go with your hose.

What I found remarkable is that unbelievably many people suddenly came to watch. There was a lot of traffic on our, usually, quiet road. It was chaos and they had to make way quickly for the firemen once in a while.

The drama in Pedrógão Grande

Last week in Pedrógão Grande, it became a drama, because many people fled in panic. It is a very forested area, with little roads through it. There are a lot of city people from Lisbon coming to their weekend house – who do not know exactly where they live and what to do if something happens.

Many older residents in the area have stayed at their house and kept everything wet. I admire them enormously, they must have nerves of steel. I myself have seen a forest fire at a distance of at least half a kilometre, but when it  passes through your backyard, it’s really hard not to panic.

It’s over, thank goodness. As a result, the national discussion about what measures should be taken have been re-established. Because it was such an exceptional situation, something that never actually occurred. Let’s make sure that it never happens again!

Tips for turists / foreigners:

– Do not make an open fire, certainly not when it’s sparks

– Use a gas barbecue if you really want to barbecue

– Douse your cigarettes in water and do not throw them out of the car

– Give your plants sufficient water that they do not dry out

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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 portugal’s cultural heirlooms. Termas da Azenha, a old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and camping ground, there’s also a swimming pool. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere. The old bathhouse is a museum, where you can see how things have changed.

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 Google+, on Pinterest, and on tuesday on LinkedIn.

 

 

You like? Please like! And sharing is not forbidden ....

Relaxing massages

I usually start staring. That is a good sign. It just happens

Today, it suddenly struck me. It was the first massage in a while. In winter there are not so many clients, but when the weather is good, it’s more inviting.

Apparently.

relaxing-massages-in-Termas-da-Azenha

Before commencing a massage, I always ask about a medical history

A hernia surgery, an injury, osteoarthritis – these are things you need to know. There has been someone with a hole in his back, who had a malignant melanoma removed.

Now that’s not something you need to know before you’re going to massage, but it’s still a surprise.

Once I had a relationship with a physical therapist

He was actually a bit old for me, but it was a very cozy time. I believe that physiotherapists only connect you to vibrating devices these days, but at that time they were still massaging.

And that’s what I know from experience, after a massage or four, five, you’re really get tired. You can get backaches yourself, and your energy level is low.

He wanted me to give him a massage

He was quite tall and the table – even though it was at its highest position –  was just too low. Then you get stuck in a rotten way, and that will cost you your back. After the first time, he began to say that I had take a sports massage course, but I ignored him at that time. After the x-th time he said it, I listened.

I did a sports massage course

It has been ages ago, so I do not know the names of all those muscles anymore, and what I learned further, but the massage technique is in your fingers. That’s just like skating – you never forget it. In the years to come it always came back. There were always friends with back troubles, tense mussles, stiff necks. I massage my eldest son when he was a baby. He loved it!

Should we compare it with the flu? From time to time it comes up. Something like that. I did another “intuitive massage” course, another’s: “hotstones” and “shiatsu”. A volunteer tought me in the 6 months that he was here the technique of chair massages. Also a form of shiatsu. A guest taught me the basics of “Hawaiian massages”.

The only thing I have never learned is to walk about someone’s back in the Thai way

Now I’m not as small and skinny as those Thai ladies … so probably that’s a good thing.

After over 30 years I’m just messin’ around. I ask for any medical complications, and the rest I’ll feel while doing. And in principle, I always do the same. I crawl all over your body, and connect the dots.

First the back, spread the oil

Then, after a little while, I go down south. Then I register muscle tension. Where the tension comes from. If it’s stress, or if your muscles worked hard. If you’re a nervous type, or calm. If you are a choleric type, or a warm-blooded person. If you’re stuck with something. If you’re an introvert. If you are a smoker. If you are a drinker. If you’re a happy person.

There’s is a lot you can learn from someone’s body

massages-nas-Termas-da-Azenha_massageroom-The-Cave

It was a while ago. Today was the first time again. And even though everything was the same – the same massage room (called “The Cave”), the same table, the same music of the Tibetan monks who always contribute to complete relaxation so well, the same Weleda Arnica oil – it was as if I did it for the first time.
And what was the most striking thing: I do not have to think about it. Indeed, it is completely intuitive. My hands are completely self-sufficient. In fact, the less I think, the better it goes. Then I’m going to stare.

And usually I close my eyes. I can feel even better.

When it’s done, I gently put a towel over my victim, and I go away quietly. The best massages are those, when I have to wake the people afterwards. (And that’s almost always.)

And further … I just mess around

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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 portugal’s cultural heirlooms. Termas da Azenha, a old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and camping ground, there’s also a swimming pool. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere. The old bathhouse is a museum, where you can see how things have changed.

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 Google+, on Pinterest, and on tuesday on LinkedIn.

 

You like? Please like! And sharing is not forbidden ....