Renovations Update

The builders have finished the first stage of the renovations, and that part of the house looks fabulous. The roof is made of locally sourced round pole beams covered with pine planks ( all treated with an Eco-friendly preservative). 5 cm thick cork insulation, waterproof membrane ( neither Eco or local unfortunately, but necessary) and finished with local terracotta tiles.

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The inside of the house looks dark in this photo, but it’s just a bad photo- it’s light and sunny and look at the lovely ceiling!

The lintels for the window openings came from our land and the windows are reclaimed, stripped and varnished. We are now looking for matching doors, French windows for the living room and bedroom, stable type doors for the kitchen ( which will probably have to be made new).

Tom is pointing the inside walls with a lime mortar this week and then we’ll start on the floors. We’re very fortunate that the house is built on granite bedrock, so no rising damp. I’d like an earthen floor in the bedroom, but they take too long to lay, dry and oil, so we’ll probably go with wood. The kitchen will be laid with flagstones possibly onto a tamped earth floor – we haven’t quite reached agreement on that yet but we have agreed – no concrete!

We then need to ‘fit’ the kitchen and bathroom, and get all this done by end of September as all of our furniture is currently outside!

 

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Quinta da Bem Paz (or the Farm of Wellness and Peace)

So we’ve finally found and bought our smallholding in Portugal!

After several visits and dozens of viewings we came across the most charming small farm, with an outstanding view. The land is just perfect, it has everything we need (almost). Gently sloping, south facing, walled in granite all round, and although it needs repairing in places, is basically in very good condition. Lot’s of fresh water from 3 wells, strategically placed around the land, and best of all, a fresh water spring situated at the top of the land so that we can gravity feed fresh water to the house. A large pond, also at the top of the land, for rain-water catchment, which we may convert to a natural swimming pool in future, or maybe use to feed a series of smaller ponds and rice paddy down hill.

There are approximately 220 olive trees, so we’ll have a LOT of olive oil (guess what everyone’s getting for Xmas!), lots of grape vines, about 20 orange trees (why anyone would want that many oranges is beyond me) 3 fig trees, a couple of peach trees and best of all, 2 mulberry trees, one black, one white.

Wild blackberries are growing all around the perimeter wall, some of which we’ll keep, and some of which we’ll set the goats to clear. I spotted at least 2 hawthorn trees, and there are several cork oaks at various stages of maturity.

The house is very old and made from local granite stone, and whilst it’s basically habitable ( well one room is) it needs a lot of work. We intend to renovate in natural materials, and are very fortunate that there are 3 tumble-down animal houses on the land built from the same granite as the house, so we have some of the materials already to hand.

Here is a photo taken from the top of the land looking down towards the house

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We intend to plant more fruit trees this autumn – cherries, plums, nectarines, pomegranate, apples, pears, lemons and limes; kiwi fruit vines; almond and hazelnut trees; raspberry, blueberry, gooseberry and currant bushes. Apart from olive prunings, there’s no firewood on the land, so a priority this year will be to plant a woodland of ash to coppice to provide firewood in the future (about 7 years in the future). The lovely people we’ve bought the farm from are leaving us all their firewood, about 3 cords, so that will see us through this winter, and as most of the farms around us are abandoned, we may be able to ‘scrump’ some fallen trees in the spring.

So very excited to be starting yet another adventure! Tom will move to Portugal with the dogs in November, and I’ll continue living and working in Abu Dhabi for some time ( or until the building work is finished :))