o lar - preparação

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Putting down roots.

After 6 months of viewing plots with estate agents who weren't particularly motivated by our minimal budget, and a lot of falling in love with not-for-sale ruins found in forests, a dodgy internet listing with a photo of brambles but a semi-interesting sounding description lead us to a 27500m2 plot on a south-facing slope.






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Was it too big? Would the slope be manageable? Would we ever get on top of the jungle of 8ft high brambles that clawed to the ruin and 80% of the land? Would the ruin even be salvageable? As we hacked away tunnels in the brambles we discovered areas of flat land around the ruin, peach trees, a fig tree covered in heavy green figs, a hat hanging on a nail - a once garden. We scrambled down the hill, past fruit trees and vines, some of which still alive despite 10+ years of neglect and fire damage from a blaze that swept the valley 4 years previously. Two thirds of the way down we found the old cork oak forest, with strawberry trees, olives, bay, trotter tracks of wild boar. Two eagles soared and settled in the abandoned forest across the valley. We signed the deed before we'd even made it through the brambles and into the house.






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As we strimmed back layer after layer of brambles, stems as thick as our wrists, a house and various semi-derelict outbuildings including an adega emerged. Like unwrapping the best present ever.
The ruin was likely going to take us years to restore. Before we could properly move out of our rental, and because the van would be needed for materials, we needed a temporary something to live in at the land, which took us hunting for a home in a container park.






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We decided we'd construct a dog-proof fence around more or less half of the land (400m), the little dog mustn't be able to get through it or under it, the big dog mustn't be able to jump over and it must be totally Houdini fence-voo-doo proof for medium dog. It would cost us a ridiculous amount of money and should take us a month or so, we thought ( HA HA fucking HA... 1.5yrs later, 150 holes dug and posts tamped in, 400m of trench dug, braces made and mesh attached...).






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Following permaculture principles we drew contour maps, planned swales, and begun re-foresting the more open areas of land. We got a good deal with a local eco-village tree nursery and ended up planting 200+ trees at the end of April. A bit late in the season but we thought we'd surely get some rain. No rain until the end of November = a lot of hours lugging 25L water containers up and down the hill.






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Something about the warmth of the people and the sunshine, we fell more and more in love with Portugal.
On a Friday evening after a long day clearing the area for the container home, we drove down to the village cafe for beer. As we pulled up we noticed fuel pouring out from somewhere inside the engine of the van. Fuck. 7pm on a Friday. There would be no chance of getting it fixed that evening so we decided to have beers and try to walk/carry the dogs back (40 minutes along semi-quiet roads, with stupidly just one dog lead). We vaguely explained in broken Portuguese our predicament to Suzana, the owner of the cafe, who immediately made a phone call. A guy at the bar who'd been busy texting as we talked to Suzana, looked up to tell us he'd messaged his cousin and that he could be here in 50 minutes. Suzana got off the phone and said the mechanic up the road would be here in 5. The mechanic arrived with a car full of his smiling family who all did their best to help translate. A fuel pipe had frayed and popped off, he fixed it on the spot. No call-out charge. We tried to give him some cash but he flatly refused any, or any fuss. He just about let us buy them some beers.






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We kept stumbling upon mysterious, un-eaten candle-lit dinners at cross-roads of forest tracks. And the neighbours dogs tried to move in. The new home arrived on the back of the lorry and our local man with machines, and his uncle, spent a Sunday afternoon precariously, lifting, pushing and dragging it across the land. Amused, they complied with our desperate request that we try not to squash a single tree. Despite it being a Sunday and an awkward job, he also insisted that he just wanted to help us out and didn't want any money.






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Oh and the story of little Ali. Turned out nobody wanted him, except us. (Youtube banished the nice upload with music...) 










1 comments:

  1. Wow!!! Such an immense project to take on but so so worth it. Keep on living the dream guys. Love you both xx

    ReplyDelete

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