It was our first trip to Lisbon since the Christmas lockdown began, but it wasn’t a grand day out for Garfunkel who we were taking for knee surgery.
While he was under the knife, we had envisaged a few errands, a nice lunch and a luxury trip to a really big supermarket before heading home…but Millicent the Land Rover had other plans for us.
And while searching for a fast-fix garage so her failed brakes wouldn’t force us to find somewhere to stay overnight which would also accept a dazed, post-operative 60kg horse/dog, we received some good news…
WE GOT THE BANK LOAN!
Yes. By combining our savings, and loans from Turismo de Portugal and the bank we have the funding and can now start to build our guest lodge in the Alentejo countryside!
Oh-oh…now we have a lot of work to do…
You know when you think through those moments beforehand…how you would react if everything you had been working towards for two years suddenly came to fruition?
When Ana calmly read out the email: “the loan is approved,” I quickly hit record on the phone’s voice memos to capture the moment…
“Shit,” she said, somewhat unexpectedly.
Since Turismo de Portugal had backed the project with more than half the money, I’d occasionally allowed my mind to wander into dangerous “what if this actually happens…” territory.
Our hopes had been raised, but we hadn’t dared to lift expectations accordingly.
Yes, we had started cutting trees down and spoken to people who know people with big diggers to pull up eucalyptus roots where the buildings might or could go.
Yes, we had warned a few people it might be on and had started talking about what we would do, being careful to always use “if” rather than “when” or to follow up a loose phrase with, “obviously, if we do get approval…”
But when the moment came – amid the chaos of brake failure and dog surgery – it was a little overwhelming.
Passing the afternoon with Simon, sitting on a wall outside the garage in a dodgy part of Lisbon waiting for the car brakes to be fixed, it gradually began to sink in, and our minds started racing.
Shock gave way to daunted excitement as we imaged the next two years of our lives disappearing into a blur of construction work and deadlines, stress and solar panels, big consequential decisions…and a lot of fun!
So…does anyone know how to build a four-building off the grid eco-lodge?
We have a load of quotes and some great drawings, but now we need to get into the weeds.
Top of the list is:
Have a big meeting with the architect, engineer and builder to talk specifics and “specialities” (whatever they are)
Cut more industrial eucalyptus trees down so we can tweak the placing and orientation of the new buildings for the best view…then dig out the roots
Have serious conversations with water experts to save and re-use as much water as we can: treat our black water for irrigation and our drinking water for consumption
After the winter I’ve been rethinking the hot water solution…solar alone won’t do it, so do we go for a central “power plant” or provide for each house individually? And how does under-floor heating fit into that?
Photovoltaic panels and power showers alone won’t be enough – we need a heat pump, a wood pellet burner and maybe some solar thermal panels in the mix…maybe…to cover our bases?
Get my head around what a thermal and an acoustic speciality is…
In fact…if you can help – or know anyone who can – I’d love to book in a 15 minute Zoom power chat…to speed-learn as much as possible and think more broadly.
And it’s not like we were sitting around before the news came in!
We already have a lot on our plate getting the guesthouse ready to take visitors – from May 1st – but now we have to go into overdrive.
And then there was arranging a surprise birthday treat for Ana involving beaches, sushi and palm trees.
A birthday sandwich featuring logos 2 and 4, jam and Kalles Kaviar, and cream cheese squeezed out of an icing sugar coisinha.
Thank you sooooooo much Richard and Pauline for making the impossible happen…we’re so lucky to have you as our friends and owe you big time.
I’m loving the lumberjack work and my favourite new toy is a super-powerful jet wash machine which can strip old paint and dig out crumbling sections of concrete that need to be repaired. Oooo. Ahhhh.
Think massive water pistol that you don’t have to refill.
With the brand new bright yellow scaffolding no longer just looking pretty, we’ve been stripping the outside of the house, pruning and strimming around it and marvelling at the view from the house on the top of the hill.
This is where the new buildings will go, when they are finished (we can say that now!).
And when it comes to clearing the blocked sewer, let’s just leave it at “I had my hands full.”
Those annoying tree roots had forced their way in again and I feared we’d have to dig the whole pipe up…but some aggressive plunging with a 4m pole resolved the issue far more quickly than anticipated. The Pole didn’t even mind. (I’m here all week #dadjokes).
We need to get some help, and with all our blog-reading friends unable to travel because of the pandemic (great excuse guys), we are trying to find some local folk to help, which is trickier than you might expect.
It’s all stuff we could do ourselves…if there were 48 hours in every day…but there aren’t, and there’s a load to do.
At least Garf is no trouble. Poor guy is mostly horizontal and off his paws on tramadol.
The operation was a biggie…when we got to the vet in Lisbon the surgeon said he wasn’t going to replace the cruciate ligament…but adjust the angle of his bones to support his weight.
I’ll be honest…I had to Google “dog knee” to find out exactly how a dog’s leg works.
That sticky back bit that looks like a backwards knee? The ankle.
They had the technology…and have rebuilt him…check out the x-rays…I hope it’s top of the range metal (for that price)
It’s a two-month recovery period…and it may permanently affect his mad half hour galumphing.
He’d stiffened up in the car on the way back and was sore by the time we got home as the epidural was wearing off.
I popped the pills as per the instructions: “Administre por via oral 3 capsulas de 8 em 8 horas durante 5 dias consecutivos e depois em SOS.”
(Administer 3 capsules orally every 8 hours for 5 consecutive days and then in emergency.)
But then I woke up in the night and Googled tramadol…three 50mg tramadols is too much for a human…let alone a tiny little 60kg dog…I may have misunderstood the instructions and OD-d Garfy.
Come to think of it he seemed extremely spaced out and smiley an hour after we gave him the pills.
I raced out of bed expecting the worst, but he was stirring…and occasionally sighing like a Lord of the Rings Ent…so at least I hadn’t killed him.
It turns out, three tramadol three times a day is correct…you give more drugs to dogs…so I presume Planet Garfunkel is a happy place at the moment.
The only fear is he’ll become the latest victim of the opioid crisis and his addiction to prescription drugs might lead him on a downward spiral into heroin abuse and a life of crime and prostitution.
I guess that’s why the vet said we had to keep him on the lead when we take him outside…and keep the pills out of reach.
Christ that’s a big dog! It was only when seeing Ana dwarfed by Garf that I got the scale. Big congratulations to your financing! Hope to see you soon!
I hope Millicent made a swift and not to costly recovery along with Garfunkel, Love reading the blog ( I am a relative new comer to it so picking up on the bits now- good luck with the project will love to see it when able to travel :-(