Saturday, February 06, 2010

Wouldn't it be nice to have a peaceful little farm in the wilds of Portugal?

If this thought ever crosses your mind just you go and have a few stiff drinks and then sit in a nice warm bath or something until the thought uncrosses your mind...

...this must be just one of the most beautiful, peaceful places to be anywhere - but getting set up out here is not for the faint-hearted. The tangled bureaucracy is infuriating even if, like Janet and Clive, you speak Portuguese fluently. Clive has written much in his own blogging about the ups and downs of having anything built out here - click here for Clive's Quinta Blog. Then there are many other little flies in the ointment like the "hunters" who have the right to roam freely through the area firing off their blunderbusses at wildlife however small, right down to thrushes. (Clive and I reckon it would be a much better sport if the birds had guns too). It's not a good idea to confront these guys though as the Rambo-clad warriors may also be the local police or other worthies... is bloomin gorgeous out here though all the same! Janet and Clive 35 acres here and are still exploring their land after three years, finding olive and other trees that they didn't even know were there. There's a huge variety of growing areas, parts are strewn with giant boulders, there are thousands of trees and a family of wild boar haunt the upper areas. Their hard work and persistence is paying off already though and the vineyards and olivals are beginning to look really good.

A bit more about the Portuguese outback...

We are in the Beira Interior Sul region of Portugal not far from the Spanish border and its verry verrrry quiet. You can carry on a conversation quite easily with someone a hundred yards away and hear the neighbouring farmer's wife shouting at her flock of goats and sheep very clearly.
Sadly you don't see many children in the village, the younger families have gone to the cities like Lisbon or have gone to work in France.

Here's a couple of shots from a walk I took up in the hills behind Janet and Clive's quinta, lots of rocks, boulders and scrubby vegetation with a random olival scattered here and there.

I love the way we humans have made very little impact on the landscape around here - in the picture above you can just see the nearest village tucked away to the right. None of the houses are over two floors high and rather than gardens they tend to have little micro-holdings of olives, vines and vegetables.
Here's my walking chum Harry coming down the road at top speed...

...and here's Clive after a haircut in Fundao at a barbers shop straight out of the Fifties - good haircut though!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

NEW GROWTH - sustainable framework in sight

I've also had time while pruning all these olive trees to think about my own short term future. My immediate plans when I get back to the UK are to work in Wales for a while at Lammas and also in the area around the project. Lammas is a brilliant project, see the posts below, I'm sure it will prove to be a turning point and help many other similar projects to get going. One of my dreams is to be part of something like Lammas in Scotland which my daughters, Amanda and Laura and their children can get involved with as well if it's appropriate for them.

As well as doing my therapy work, I would love to help to start up a tree nursery, an orchard renovation service, a residential treatment/retreat centre, help to develop courses in sustainable topics and carry on with low impact building work. It's mostly stuff I've done before but at last this is an opportunity to do it all within the framework of a developing sustainable community.

More and more people are getting seriously concerned about the future. One of my patients told me about a book he was reading set in Tokyo just after the Second World War and the grim time that people had trying to find food. They used to travel out by train to the surrounding countryside to try to buy food, barter for it or steal it from farmers. I wonder if that's a pre-shadow of what life could be like in the UK for city dwellers one day not too far away? What food would we be able to get at a UK agri-business farm anyway?

Life after Debi

It's been a big change splitting up with Debi, my soulmate of six years. This time out here in the Portuguese wilds has let me mull everything over.

I always found living on the South Coast with Debi and her three boys difficult - all the traffic and stress, a life revolving around cars and supermarkets, an underlying feeling that we humans had squeezed every last drop of profit and life out of the land around us and my instincts saying louder and louder that the big crash is not far away. So it's a relief to be away from all that. In the end its mainly been the different ways of living we are looking for that has brought us to our fork in the road - I feel there's no time to lose in becoming part of a sustainable future whereas Debi and the kids prefer to carry on with what they know.

The picture above is one of Debi from my photo website: Earth Energy Images - she was very photogenic, always looked different, often totally gorgeous. These photos will always remind me of all the wonderful times we had together.

Anytime I feel that life is hard or lonely now I just think of all the extraordinary people I have met recently, and of the old friends I have re-met and I feel better straight away - there's a worldwide evolutionary hyper-family in the making...