It was beginning to feel like one of those weeks again.
The back window now keeps falling out of the car, the broken boiler still isn’t fixed, the fixed boiler appeared to be broken and the Cow King had to rescue our repair man from a mud bath with his tractor.
And then I chipped a tooth on a piece of toast.
But despite the rain, and the cracked tooth, there is light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully it’s not a train coming.
After moaning about mud and how I needed mechanical help, Ana and I did exactly what Brigadier Adrian said (in response to my last despatch): “Get digging, mate!!”.
Lots of channel cutting to encourage small streams and a satisfactory afternoon with a petrol-driven strimmer with mulching blade, and the nightmares about mudslides have subsided despite all the rain.
And my new hard hat/face guard/ear protecting combo set…in emergency red…made me extremely happy.
It was cheap and came with a knowing “this is a nice bit of kit” nod from the woman in CUF – the local farm supplies store.
With earbuds beneath the ear guards I battled the bramble mountain of silvas as it’s known here while listening to the audio book Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali.
What a weird discovery…initially on our own bookshelf…that prompted me to do lots of Googling about why Monica Ali’s second novel was a collection of stories about different fictional people living in our region.
According to Google she bought a place out here after the success of Brick Lane in the mid 2000s – and it’s quite a raw picture of the expats, the locals, and those leaving from or returning to a fictional town struggling with change.
From the references to real places near us I have the sneaking suspicion her house is not a million miles from ours.
And then I moved on to sampling some Portuguese music…there’s a lot of great new stuff out there – I found this list on Timeout Portugal.
But does anyone know how to work German eBay? I need 15-year-old electrical control unit for our gas boiler.
It’s number one on the to-do list. Yup there’s still no hot water or central heating.
The wonderful Guido did everything he could: he fitted new seals and sensors, and even drilled out a snapped screw and re-threaded the hole.
But the error message was still there…a new control panel is the last hope for our old German boiler.
The only one on the planet is on eBay.de and I have four days.
If we don’t get that unit then the money and time already invested will be lost and we’ll have to fork out a couple of grand for a new one.
So…please send your hints and tips about eBay…I’ve never used it in English before, let alone in German.
(I guess passive-aggressive bidding isn’t going to work!?)
It’s up for €350 – but I don’t want to pay that much. What should I do? Bid reasonable and early? Or wait until the last couple of hours and bid low on the basis he won’t get anything else for it? But I really need it.
Guido had tried his best, and karma really shouldn’t have rewarded he and his transit van with that patch of mud at exactly that angle on that hill.
I was “getting digging” again when he left and didn’t see the six missed calls for more than an hour.
I tried to persuade Millicent to work some magic and pull his van out, but we only made things worse for Guido, his young son and his dog (who looks like a slightly bigger twin of Simon).
We don’t know O Rei das Vacas (the Cow King) well enough to phone him for help on a Sunday.
Real name Mr Oliveira, he’s the local farmer who owns most of the rolling hills of pasture and cork oaks all around us and keeps the most healthy-looking, beautiful beef cows.
He works all the time tending to the animals, checking the land, and as chance would have it at 5pm on a Sunday he was busy out in the fields and was happy to help pull out the tall transit van with his tractor without toppling it, setting Guido off on his way.
Simon is loving the puddles.
Simon’s a very sweet little dog, but he has developed a strange view of the world that runs counter to scientific evidence and truth.
What began as a fascination with fishing in tidal pools on the beach and in the lake has developed into an obsession with fishing in puddles.
He’s become a puddle denialist who rejects lamestream media’s insistence that there are no fish in puddles.
He believes there are fish in puddles and so there are fish in puddles.
The mud roads are also starting to get a bit crazy.
Iain our friendly British solar guy just about made it out with his white van after a bit of hair-raising “Colin McRae” driving (as Rui calls it).
Iain had fitted a fourth new solar battery and a monitor so now I have lots of different ways of calculating how little power we have left before the lights go out and the generator goes on.
He was also advising me how to link up two dozen old panels that our friends are kindly sending our way (thanks guys!)…it’ll make a huge difference in harvesting all the available sunlight especially in this weather.
By next winter hopefully we will have installed a pellet burner to heat up the water, but for now the one thing we can do is collect some of this rain…and boy it’s coming down!
Number two on the to-do-list is to get a water tank to collect what’s flowing off the roof.
I put a plastic container out and it was full withing the hour (as Simon will attest to) …no traipsing to the spring singing I shall go to fetch the water for us for a bit!
I ordered a water purifier to run it through – a Berkey filter – it’s one that the more practical WhatsApp group people were raving about and managed to get a group discount on.
Let’s see how the DHL delivery man does on the road…I suggested we meet at the nearest petrol station and hopefully he takes my advice.
The land is sodden and with a weather forecast predicting indefinite rain, I guess it’ll be a good test of our channels…and perhaps we might have to get the shovels out to dig some more between showers!
Oh, and number three on the list? Find a good dentist.
That Simon video is hilarious :)