This week we need some help.
We’re designing a logo for Vale das Estrelas and need plenty of constructive feedback, we’re recording for the pilot episode of our wine podcast this week…and does anyone know how to prune grape vines?
But first let me tell you about the encroaching narrative.
One day I’m going to wake up and realise we have a zoo…or the makings of a pretty good ark.
I’m going to stroke my (by then) much longer beard and wonder “how on earth did that happen?”
Slowly, but steadily will be the answer.
Ana’s silky spin-doctor skills have been working overtime in the pursuit of more animals (mais animais), but I’ve been noticing what I’m calling the encroaching narrative.
See if you can see a pattern:
We have two dogs.
We only have two dogs. Andrea has six dogs.
Our next dog should be a puppy.
Simon needs a puppy.
(Ana thinks I love Simon more, and so if he wants something there’s more chance of him getting it. When Simon needed a cat in Nairobi for example, Simon got a cat…in retrospect that set a bad precedent).
Maybe one day we can have a horse.
You can’t have just one horse – it’s not fair – they need company.
Can you ask Radi how to turn brambles into pasture?
That’s where the horses are going to live.
I mean all I really want is a llama, and the only reason I want a llama is so I can call it Vasco. Vasco the llama, obviously.
Ana thinks we should have an alpaca, but that ruins the whole point.
We’ll probably have a “small llama” called Vasco.
Llamas are great for looking after a flock – we learned that from Peter Bowes and Andy in LA whose llama Arthur cares for their goats to the point of obsession.
The goats keep the grass down to protect the house from forest fires, Arthur protects the goats from mountain lions.
Having spent a few days with Radi this week strimming silves (brambles) and Portuguese heather and chainsawing canas (cheap bamboo), we need a long-term management plan for our seven hectares.
We don’t have mountain lions, and I’m not sure what opinion wild boars (wild boars) have on grass feeders.
We need goats for Vasco to look after.
Perhaps we should get sheep.
My mum says we need sheep.
We have to build a fence for the sheep.
I don’t think I need to go into any more detail about the cat(s), chickens, the runner ducks or the pigs, do I? And did I mention the peacocks? You get the picture. It’s going to be a zoo.
Solving one problem here in Vale das Estrelas often creates a new one.
It was such a delight to have a shower so hot it almost burned my skin off.
Yes, it’s taken time: after days of trawling German eBay, weeks of waiting for parts, let alone the years of experience and hours of effort…Guido has FIXED OUR BOILER.
I’m considering making a brass plaque or perhaps putting up one of those historic blue circles over the boiler room door to commemorate the hours Guido spent coaxing “the old lady,” as he calls her, back to life.
It was last year when the boiler first broke down and I discovered that it was so old that the only manuals available online were in German.
After first being told just to spent thousands buying a new one, and then rolling my sleeves up with Richard and having a fiddle, Guido popped up on WhatsApp and the rest is history.
He lovingly took the entire thing apart and put it back together with new seals and sensors…and it still didn’t work.
Just like in a heart transplant, the second-hand controller was never a 100% certainty, and there was always the chance she might reject it.
It was touch and go for a while and the old lady had a few issues with exhaust gases (I mean who doesn’t?), but Guido coaxed her back to life.
But apparently, gas boilers need gas.
For some reason we’ve been extremely efficient with our gas bottles in the cold-water days of winter, but since the boiler’s been fixed we’ve been living it large.
We’ve SQUANDERED hot water on radiators, LAVISHLY washed up without having to boil water on the stove and been SHOWBOATING with sometimes twice-daily showers.
So yes, we are now almost entirely out of gas and are limiting hot showers again, rationing radiator time and worrying we soon won’t be able to eat hot food.
We need to get some large cylinders delivered before the next weather front liquefies the road and the gas man with his big gas van can’t keep us in the level of hot water to which we are now accustomed.
So now onto that help…and the logo…
We’re working with Lara O’Sullivan in South Africa who designed the amazing Spotswood wine label (thanks for the tip my pal Nick).
The brief is: the rolling hills of Alentejo, a star or stars obviously, the colour palate of sunset, and something that says classy eco-friendly off-grid luxury lodge.
We love art deco, we love the radiance style of the LA artist Shephard Fairey and this is what we have so far…
We’re going for a feel rather than an icon, a picture more than a symbol.
So, what do you think?
We love them all for different reasons and will blend a little something from everything into the final design, but please send your thoughts and tell us which is your favourite and why.
We’ve continued to battle with bureaucracy this week…for the final document requested by Turismo de Portugal before they decide whether this will be the way to finance our big plan.
It’s all submitted now and we have everything crossed, as we really want to start work as soon as we can.
We have people ready to go who may soon have to take other jobs…but with the pandemic hitting tourism hard we’re just not sure whether they’re going to give us a loan.
And while we’re tortured by the wait, I’ve been working on our wine podcast idea.
Wine will be the focus of the podcast, but people and places will be at its heart.
We want to explore the amazing variety of weird and wonderful Portuguese grape varieties and meet some of the crazy characters ageing wine in the sea or making Vinho de Talha using Roman amphorae.
We’ve decided to start with our nearest vineyard – Vicentino – which allows us to talk about the coast which gives the name Rota Vicentina to its long-distance hiking paths, about the queen of fado Amália Rodrigues who had a summer house in the same village Brejão, and about pruning their Pinot Noirs.
Would you listen to that?
We want to make it travelogue-y and informative, to paint a picture of beautiful landscapes and vineyards, and to help listeners learn about Portuguese wine as we do.
Any help and advice on this one much appreciated as well…we have no idea what we are doing, but we think it might work…with a little help from our friends!
Now, about ordering that gas…
#2. I prefer this font. The others say Hollywood to me.
Number 3. 😁