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Initial post: 24 Jul 2012 16:42:42 BDT
There was a knock on the door about 8pm last night. It was our weekly visit from our neighbour up the road. He brings up a huge bucket full of garden produce, whatever is in season. This time six tomatoes ( doesn't sound a lot) but each one weighed over two pounds, a couple of giant green peppers, and several melons. He gives us all the mishappen things he can.t sell. In return we let him have all our Carob crop. The whole family comes round to climb up the trees and bash the pods down. His parents bring us baskets of fresh eggs whenever they have a glut. They are lovely people, have nothing, but always willing to share. No electricity or running water but always clean and well groomed. I always feel guilty about taking anything from them, but our Carob crop is the only income the grandparents have, and it gives them enough to pay the bills for a year.( about 500euros) We also pay the son to cut fire wood from the trees which shed branches every winter. We never know when he'll come but the wood gets cut and stacked, and he's always got a smile on his face.

Posted on 24 Jul 2012 21:39:07 BDT
We've been here for 23 years. Portugal has changed beyond recognition. Yet, where we live is like a time capsule. We live in a tiny hamlet, about a dozen properties. When we came only five were lived in, the rest empty. Today , there are still only five, but different ones.

During the day, in summer, there is little sound. The odd car or tractor goes past, sometimes a dog barks for a while. a cockerel crows. Otherwise the only sound is the cicadas by day and the crickets at night.

But every afternoon, around 4pm, in the distance we'd hear the sound of a distressed, under powered motor cycle droning up the hill. It's not steep just a long drag.

Finally. Pedro appears. He's so typical of Portugal, somewhere between 45 and 85 years in age. Small, round, weather beaten brown. He wears a crash helmet, blue, like half a football. The sides have leather ear pieces and straps, never fastened that flow behind. His motor bike, was once blue. Now only the tank have any traces of colour. The rest is battered and rust coloured. It matches Pedro completely. Pedro is our fish man.

By night he takes out a tiny wooden brightly coloured fishing boat. He sells his catch each morning at the local auction. What's left he sells from his old motorbike.

On the back of his bike, he has a battered tomato box. In it a decrepid polystryene cold box, held in place with a couple of elesticated strapes. On top a set of scales, the weights in a small box.

Everyday, I would look to see what he'd brought. Usually, a few sardines, a couple of mackerel. The rest looked as if they'd come out of a tropical fish tank. The neighbours were quite happy.

But ALWAYS THERE WAS A HUGE OCTOPUS SLIDING AROUND IN THE HALF MELTED ICE. It was always there, all the year round. I started to dream about it. I had a vision of Pedro on his motor bike, with the octupus riding pillion, wearing
a matching crash helmet. One 'arm' around Pedro, another holding his unstrapped helmet in place, and another holding the weighing scales.
Sadly Pedro is no more, but the vision is still as strong as ever.

Posted on 25 Jul 2012 20:02:44 BDT
Frenchie says:
I read this in a magazine once and the story stayed with me. A lady was invited to her posh boyfriend's family for the first time. The mother was very stuck up. They invited her for dinner (with two ''n''s) and when she accepted, she had this feeling that she should have declined. Anyway, dinner was a grand affair, with crystal glasses and china dish. She said the portions were tiny and then, the mother passed her dish of 4 small roasted potatoes and ask her to help herself. So, she tipped the whole bowl of (4) roasted potatoes in her plate and tuck in happily. She did ask the father if they did not like potatoes because no one else had them, she found it strange but did not think more about it. On the return journey, her soon to be ex-boyfriend informed her very stiffly that she had embarrassed her greatly as she had eaten all the potatoes servings for the whole family. Yes, the four tiny potatoes were the side dish for everyone.
One the other hand, to marry into this family, you would not have any problem watching your weight.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jul 2012 20:09:45 BDT
pixie says:
French...when I was young I was asked to a Boyfriends house for Sunday lunch....ALL the family were there and I was very intimidated...Mum, Dad,Grans
an uncle and Aunt plus his brother and sister. I am cack handed ( left) when eating and I find it difficult to cut meat. I tried and tried and felt myself getting very hot under the collar! With one last ditch attempt I ripped the meat slice apart and every single pea shot off my plate! I was mortified and dived onto the floor and tried to rescue the missing veg...I sat under the table and cried! I could hear hushed voices asking "is she alright?" but would not come from under the table...It makes my cheeks burn to think of it now!!!

Posted on 7 Aug 2012 22:25:41 BDT
I fell through the door tonight. The car was full with the week's shopping, which needed unloading and putting away, but Hubby is the old fashioned hubby. He likes dinner on the table at 7pm. I grabbed my pinny, turned on the oven. Put water in a couple of pans. Then I started the synchonised unpacking/dinner preparation ( with dog feeding in the middle) Luckily, Hubby was fully engrossed in the Olympics.

While I was doing everything, I started to think about the 'pinny man'. When we first arrived here, few people had cars, the most modern vehicle was the Renault 4. Most people either walked of if they were lucky had a mule and cart... So most of our neighbours relied on the travelling sales men.

A couple of times a year the 'Pinny Man' would arrive. He would stop in the middle of the road, completely blocking it. The neighbouring ladies would sit in semi circle, behind the van. For the next couple of hours the neighbours would give their views on what the pinny man had for sale.

Finally, the ladies would make their deciscions. Picking out a wrap around sleeveless pinny identical to the one they were wearing! Meanwhile, any vehicle that wanted to pass down the road would have come to a halt, not that they minded, as they would have added their views to the products available.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Aug 2012 23:21:48 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Aug 2012 23:22:43 BDT
Frenchie says:
Thank you for sharing that. It is a very nice way of life. I remember when I used to visit my aunt who has a farm in a little village near Limoges, they had a grocery van every week passing by, selling everything from groceries, to clothes, to books. It is incredible what he had stashed in his van. It was really the highlight of the ladies'week on that day. Of course, it is not as exciting as your ''Pinny Man'', but it was nice. They don't have these vans anymore. Everyone has got a car, so, they go to the big supermarket, but I think it is sad in one way. No more personalised shopping.

edited for typos.

Posted on 10 Aug 2012 11:04:56 BDT
We had loads of delivery vans come round when I was a kid, wow this has brought back a few memories. Grocery delivery van from home and colonial, milkman, gold top, left on doorstep and in the winter when it was freezing the cream used to stand about two inches above the bottle with the gold lid perched on top, or in summer the birds would peck the lid and steal the cream. I had my first crush on the boy who came with the bakery van, he never noticed me, despite me hanging out of the window playing the Beatles very loudly on the hi eh! The chip van on a wednesday, ice cream man, and best of all the coop shop van. The doors opened along the sidecofvthis huge red van ,there were steps up to the long wooden counter and shelves filled with goodies behind the counter, it was just like one of those sweetie shops you got for Christmas back in the day.... Happy

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Aug 2012 12:08:31 BDT
It's amazing how many delivery people there were. How about the door to door sales man. The Kleenize man. My Mum always bought something from him, said she felt sorry for him by the time he'd walked to the house ( we had a very long drive and big gates, but it was just a little bungalow). The weekly parrafin delivery man. My Dad used to drop the weekly food order( we had an order book) into the corner shop on his way to work, and then the next day the van would come and deliver it. He did the same with the butcher and he'd cycle the five miles, some time with just half a pund of mince. We didn't have a fridge until the late sixties.

Posted on 3 Oct 2012 17:38:38 BDT
I mentioned a while ago that I'd bought a Philips Airfryer. Had it a couple of months now, and I use it a lot. Makes fantastic chips, but also cooks pastry beautifully, does cakes as well and perfect meringues.
When I bought it, it was part of a promotion. Fill in the enclosed form send it off and wait. After about six weeks, I get a phone call from a transport company. They were trying to deliver something from Philips but couldn't find the house. The post isn't delvered to houses where we are, just to the PO five miles away, I have to go and collect it each week.
I told the transport people that if the driver came to the local railway station and phoned me I would come and meet him. Later I get a call, no they couldn't come to the station, would I meet them at the roundabout on the main road outside the big paint depot. I get there, park so I can see the road and wait, and wait and wait. I watch every deliver vehicle as it goes past, but nothing stops. Then a huge juggernaut of a lorry pulls up outside the Paint Depot, almost blocking my view of the road. I get out so that I can see the road, then the driver comes up to me and says he has a package for me. He opens the huge double doors on the back of the lorry and hands me a carrier bag! The lorry is completely empty except for the bag. I sign, wait until the lorry has gone and then open the bag. Inside are two bottles of olive oil and a letter thanking me for taking part in the Philips promotion!! No wonder the world is in a mess, it must have cost a fortune in fuel to deliver it, but at least I understood why the driver wouldn't come to where I live. He'd never get up the lanes.

A week later, I get a call from the PO, there's a registered letter for me. I go and get it, more from Philips. This time it's 100 (80) of money off vouchers, for Iglo (Birds Eye) I got quite excited, after all they do a good range of frozen food, but no. The whole lot is for fish fingers, chicken nuggets, fish cakes etc. I like fish fingers, but only buy them once in blue moon. All the coupons are valued at 1 so I have to buy 100 packs.

This morning I got another phone call from the PO, for another registed letter. Guess what another 100 money off coupons for exactly the same things. The whole lot are in my name so I can't even give them away.

Oh well, anybody for a fish finger butty?

Posted on 3 Oct 2012 17:44:08 BDT
I know how you feel about the changes, HC. I've lived in Sevilla for 30 years and Spain is no longer the same country. Some things have improved, but most haven't. OK, we have all the technomarvels, but something got lost along the way. I miss the old ways.
I know what you mean about "between 45 and 80 years of age." LOL Spanish men are like that too. When they start showing their age, you know the end is near! Or as Galdos put it about women, "they remain of indeterminate age until their first baby, or their first life sorrow."

Posted on 4 Oct 2012 10:32:21 BDT
It must be the sun or something, Portuguese men seem to go from young men to old men without the bit in the middle. Women here normally only have one child, but once it's born they all seem to look the same, flat shoes, hat, scarf underneath in winter and the inevitable wrap over pinny.

Yes, I like having shops that sell the variety of modern items we yearn for. But if I want something sorted out, it's always a trip to the little shops tucked up a side street, that will have the small odd thing, or be able to repair something for little cost. We had to have a water meter for our borehole in May. The local man came the next day to fit it, he's come back several times just to check it, but I haven't had the bill. Every time I asked about it, he just says 'later'.

As for all the motorways and hospitals etc put in with EU money, they are all in poor repair as the country has never had any money and nothing is going to change.

Oddly enough it's the basic subsistance farmers that are fairing the best, they've never needed for much. Water from the cisterna, filled by the winter rain, and still no electricity. Carobs, almonds and olives picked from the trees that require no chemicals or water. A plot that provides a variety of veg and pulses that they dry for the coming year. Bread still cooked in the wood fired bread oven. The only thing that has almost disappeared is the mule. Our neighbours still live like this, though once they are gone I wonder if the younger ones will carry one. With no unemployment benefit they'll most probably have no choice.

Posted on 8 Oct 2012 23:39:19 BDT
Last edited by the author on 8 Oct 2012 23:42:52 BDT
K. A. Newton says:
When I was too pregnant to work a friend asked if I would sit in her house from 8am to about 1pm as her husband had won a boat in a competition and someone had to be in to sign for it. He did not know which boat he had won as there were different sizes.

My friend worked in the county court so she could not be off work and her husband could only get the afternoon off.

I sat in her house waiting for the boat to be delivered, My friend's husband had told himself not to wish for a cabin cruiser, just a little sailboat would be nice for fishing, perhaps pulled on a little trailer

Finaly the postman came and handed me a little packet which I signed for.

When Colin got home he thought of course the boat hadn't arrived yet. He sat down opening his packet while I made him a coffee.

I heard a shout and then laughter. His boat was a little red plastic boat big enough to rest the tip of my thumb in. Thank goodness he had not taken the full day off.

His wife used to make cakes and whenever he or their son had a birthday she always put this boat on the cake with a red and white candle stood in it. They were keen ManU fans.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Oct 2012 09:11:46 BDT
Scarlet Lady says:
I love your stories KA!

Posted on 9 Oct 2012 09:15:19 BDT
pixie says:
Bit like getting caught out on ebay...who me? Nah!
Thought I'd got a bargain expensive face cream...when It arrived it was a small freebie sample thing!
Not so green now and they say what it is more clearly these days!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Oct 2012 09:18:48 BDT
Scarlet Lady says:
Yep been caught out like that too Pix

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Oct 2012 09:25:17 BDT
pixie says:
Not any more though eh Scarlet? I got a big face for a pixie!

Posted on 9 Oct 2012 10:33:46 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Oct 2012 10:43:39 BDT
K. A. Newton says:
One of the first things I won on Ebay - - -

I bid and won a Tupperware cereal container. I was first bidder and could not understand why no one else bid more than me.

Yes it was a Tupperware cereal container but with a magnet and now adorns my fridge door.

When I reread the description it did mention that it had a magnet but I didn't read the small print. I always do now.

Thank goodness no one else found out what I paid for the ickle little thing.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Oct 2012 10:40:00 BDT
pixie says:
That's so funny K A! Glad we all fall for it sometimes!

Posted on 31 Dec 2012 21:25:46 GMT
I went into our nearest little town this afternoon to do the Euromillions. Algoz (the hangman) is the sort of place you drive through and never stop. It's an uninspired place. The back streets are old but not pretty. The main street is grimy and dull. Yet it has everything you want. The main street is 'L' shaped. Schools, Drs, parish council offices are all on the short part. The main street has all the other shops. There is a daily market and a monthly one. It has a railway station, which is rare. For some reason when the railway was put in, they drew a line across the Algarve, but it didn't go through inhabitated areas. Luckily Algoz had two brick works ( there is still one) so it got a railway.
Right in the middle of the main street is the lottery shop. It's like something out of Discworld. The building is delapidated. The inside smells of damp mouse and musty paper. The window hasn't been washed in a century, and little light filters in. A single bulb give a djull glow above the ancient till. The counter has been painted dark brown, most probably not in living memory. The walls were once white, but nicotine has stained them yellow along with shelves that protude to all punters to write out their tickets. The whole place has a thick layer of dust everywhere. The walls are covered in lottery and scratch cards for every imagineable lottery and draw. The remaining space is given over to old faded photocopies of news articles about lottery winners from the whole of Portugal.
The owners are a lovely old couple. Usually it's just the man, but sometimes his wife comes in. She is tiny, completely round but exactly how you imagine the perfect Granny. He is small, stooped, with long white hair and black framed glasses. He is so old world, very gentle, and so respectful.

Today I arrived at 3pm to find a note on the dooor to say he would open at 3.30pm. Algoz has everything but it's not a window shopping town. I spent a few minutes in the Chinese 1 shops ( all owned by the same family)

Algoz has at least two of everything, butchers, fish shops, mini markets, hardware, even furniture shops. I can't think of any usueful shop it doesn't have two of. It has bars, cafes and for reasons I do not know 14 restaurants!

I arrive back at the lottery shop at 2.25pm, the owner is chatting happily to a group of equally elderly men outside the bank (one of two) Soon others arrive. 3.30pm comes and goes, the queue lengthens, the owners keeps chatting. Finally at 3.45pm he strolls over. 'You're late' says somebody, 'No, I'm not' he says and shows his watch. It's twenty minutes slow!

Posted on 1 Jan 2013 22:37:16 GMT
I love this thread.....x

Posted on 1 Jan 2013 22:59:38 GMT
Bearman says:
I went to see the former landlord of my old regular pub over Christmas. It used to be a wonderful little place. No music, books on the windowsills, somewhere that interesting people went to talk. They had a tiny restaurant room seating a maximum of 18 people, and his wife did all the cooking (which was superb). He was very outward going, posh, imposing and dwarfed me in both height and width (no mean feat). They retired and sold up about 10 years ago due to his ill health. He had very bad circulation and was in constant pain from leg ulcers and gout. I hadn't seen them for about 5 years but his wife called me just before Christmas to tell me that he had just had a leg amputated. It was obvious to me that I was well overdue visiting them, so I promised to drop in on Christmas eve. I made up a small box of homemade chocolates and baklava as a gift and went off to see them with some trepidation. It occurred to me that if they were amputating he must be very ill and this could be his last Christmas.

Well much to my surprise, he looked happier, younger, slimmer and healthier than i had seen him in 15 years. He had lost the white waxy look that was so characteristic. He had rosy cheeks and laughed the whole time I was there. It turns out that thanks to having his leg cut off, he was now pain free for the first time in years. His wife had even lost her frown lines from constant worry. What I had though of as doing my duty turned out to be a proper merry Christmas catch up.

Posted on 1 Jan 2013 23:30:58 GMT
It,s a funny old life Bear, something that most of us would contemplate with horror has turned out to be a blessing for your friend and his wife....stories like that make life worth living, thanks for telling us about

Posted on 2 Jan 2013 02:31:44 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 2 Jan 2013 02:33:55 GMT]

Posted on 2 Jan 2013 02:45:37 GMT
Spock says:
I missed that.

Posted on 2 Jan 2013 09:31:23 GMT
pixie says:
That's a lovely story Bearman...gave the man a new lease of life. My poor Dad had his legs amputated, sadly it wasn't such a good result. I'm glad it ended happily for your friend...bless him.
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