Saturday, December 8, 2012

Adeusinho Portugal

So after much umming and urring, changing of minds and a lot of effort, we are leaving Portugal.

For those of you who regularly read my blog you will know that we have been through difficult times whilst living here, mostly brought on my the Global Financial Crisis.  We have been here 4 and a half years and tried to make it work, probably we didnt always make the best decisions which led us to the wrong place but that's life right!  You cannot see what is ahead so you make decisions with the information you have at the time, things havent turned out the way expected and led us down some hard roads.

So now we have the opportunity thanks to some very supportive people to make the move and a fresh start. Although sad to be leaving and disappointed at how things have turned out.  In truth it has taken me a while to get my head around leaving and the hope that we could find a way to stay, but now I see there is no way forward for us.  The situation in portugal is grave and will take several more years to improve.

So now instead of looking back, I can move on firmly looking forward, something I feel essential to creating a new and better life for ourselves.  It is a fresh start in a new part of the country with new opportunities to seize.  I know things wont be easy, but they cannot be as difficult as they have been!

This move has been on our minds for several months, while waiting for opportunities to come and most importantly a passport, without which we could not go anywhere, something so simple can be the key to a big decision.

So with a tinge of sadness but a heart full of hope, we say goodbye next weekend.

Friday, November 30, 2012

I believe!

I believe in many things, sometimes to believe in something is all you have.  We find comfort, strength and security in our beliefs.  Whether they are religious or destiny or to believe in someone or something.

As many of you know, I have been having a difficult time lately, struggling to find a way through this crisis.  Lately has been particularly tough for several reasons, leaving me feeling trapped and like having no way forward, as though we have fallen too far to come back.  Everytime it seems like we are moving forward something comes in our way, usually that we were not expecting, throwing us off track again.  But we try and try again.  I believe we will get there somehow, and I know I am trying everything I can to do that.  Im not the world best problem solver and am a terrible procrastinator at times, two things which can heavily go against me but I try and I believe there has to be a way.  Somehow I hope if I believe enough in the possibility, it will happen, because the alternative is not an alternative.

Someone said recently, 'no-one has to help you', and that is true.  No-one has an obligation to help you but sometimes, if you're lucky there are very kind and special people who will go out of their way to help.  We have been blessed enough to have been given that kind of help and are so so grateful.  It also changes the way I see things, in that I could not imagine someone giving such help, and that if I have the opportunity to repay that kindness or pass it on to someone else I will without a doubt.  Especially in these times, when many are struggling, it can cause us to become selfish and only think of ourselves and our problems.  But there are people who will help, and go out of their way to do that.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Gallery: Eyes

This week's theme on The Gallery is Eyes.

This is my youngest daughter Grace who has amazing eyes, this photo was taken quite a while ago but now she has these huge, and I mean huge eyelashes, that a supermodel would be envious of and a little speckle of brown around the iris, as does her mother.  

Pop over to the Gallery to see more!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More strikes!

Today here in Portugal, there is yet another workers strike.  Firstly, dont get me wrong I am not against people having the right to strike but at the moment, it is seems to be every other week.  The workers unite to show their dissatifaction at how things are, lack of jobs, increased hours, increased taxes, reduced wages, but every other week!!  Striking every other week, will not make any difference.  It would be more effective to all combine for one moviment, after all arent they all striking for similar things.

And what they need to remember is everytime they take a day to strike, production is heavily prejudiced, putting this country further back in its efforts to pull itself out of this financial crisis.  Things are not easy, nor are they very fair, but you should be grateful for having a job.  Especially for all of those who are not in a job and for every time you strike a day, that is potentially another job in danger as companies struggle to survive while output is reduced through striking.

The strike which took place two weeks ago, caused some big problems for several people and businesses and was reported around the world, as I heard from several family and friends.  The leader who planned this strike was seen encouraging the crowd, which then turned to chaos causing injury to both protesters and the police.  It was awful to watch as it seemed like complete social breakdown, which went on for several hours.  Making Portugal and Lisbon especially, look unsafe and out of control.  I know of one hospitality business which lost several thousands euros of business, due to these events, as the clients pulled out due to the events of this day!  How many more businesses had the same problem.  We are desperately trying to bring people into the country and these events just put people off.

People need to see the bigger picture, striking every other week, only damages the country further and makes the struggle worse.  We need to work together, except the situation and build a better future!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

No lunch for you my dear.

Here in Portugal as is well known, things are not good in terms of economy and crisis.  This recent event to me is the complete reality of the situation.  Obviously these things dont happen on a daily basis but this is an example of things happening.

A few weeks ago here in the Algarve, a little girl was left to go without her school meal.  The issues surrounding this is conflicting and I am not sure exactly what the situation on the day was, but this is what I understand to have happened.  The girls mother was behind in paying for her daughter's school meals, anywhere between 75cents or 30 euros, the mother had been asked to pay the backdated fees, which were payable direct to the school.  The mother works during the school office time and could not get there in time on this particular day.

So the school made the decision not to feed the child, a primary school age child, even a dinner lady offered to pay for the meal but was told not to.  So this child went hungry!!  In a modernised country, who lets a child go hungry for 30 euros!  The school's reason was that they have debts in terms of their food costs, and this is understandable, but they surely should have alerted someone to this particular child's situation, rather than just not to feed the child?  I think for an educational facility where the child's welfare should come first, this is completely unacceptable and the school has failed in its role.  If a child was potentially being neglected or hurt in some way would they not have a duty or conscience to do something, make someone aware, is this not a similar thing?  I know everyone is under financial pressure, but this is too much.

I love Portugal, but am sad to see how things have changed, time to move on!  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lessons we learn

Throughout life we learn many lessons, probably many more than we realise.   Some are learned through experience, some through teaching but also we learn through others.  In that I mean, we see how others respond or react to a situation and we learn from that.

During this past year I have learnt a lot of lessons, mostly the hard and painful way.  Unfortuantely many of them things which came at me, which I was unable, despite my best efforts to avoid.  But more recently, through my experiences with other people and their responses, I have learnt things I will never do.  And have learnt how people can let you down, and this has taught me the behaviours I will never replicate.  So on the upside I have learnt something, which I believe / am sure will stay with me through life, on the down side it has left me hurt and disappointed.

But hey ho, there are always others to help and rely on in different ways and life goes on.  We live and learn, unfortunately sometimes the hard way!  But this recent experience has given me a firm lesson for life.  One which I had some experience with before, but now, realise what it truly means.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

School Homework Portuguese Style

So here we are the first month done in school!  So far, so good.  A whole new world opened up not only to my daughter but also for me.  I have to admit the first few days felt strange, being a new 'school gate mum' (fortunately we do not have the 'school gate mum syndrome', as you find in the UK) among the crowd of Portuguese parents and grandparents waiting for their child to appear.  And of course with new school, comes new routines and things to do.  One of those being homework....

Now, I quite like homework but Im lucky in that I have the opportunity to sit down and help my child, as some parents I know are not so fortunate.  She gets a piece of homework every day, and to be honest before it started I wondered how much she would get and worried about what would be too much.  I thought every day would be too much, but to be honest it is not.  She usually gets a couple of activities to do, whether it is handwriting, some maths (I say maths but at the moment, it is more about positions and obsrvations than numbers) or other things, normally takes no more than 15 - 20 minutes.  Now I would think having some work to do after a full day at school would be a bit too much, but it really isnt.  And I think doing it every day sets them up with a good daily routine.  She happily sets about her homework once home and no problem, job done.

But for me, it has also given me a challenge!  As of course the homework is in Portuguese.  Now my reading is ok and generally I understand 95% but still having to understand and assist a child who cannot read proficiently enough to follow the instructions is interesting to say the least and strange to be doing homework in another language which I am not proficient in.  Its a strange experience but also good for me to learn as well.  And of course, if stuck we have Daddy on hand (for the moment) to help, as my pronounciation is terrible and having to read phrases is my downfall for sure!!

But I have to say I am so very proud of Sophie for how she has adapted to 'big school', after struggling a bit in pre-school.  She is learning well and developing much better than we expected to be honest, not that we thought she couldnt but like any parent you worry.  But what I am most proud is how she is learning all these new things in two languages.  Of course, her English is proficient as her first language but her portuguese has and is developing greatly (again, another vast improvement on the last pre-school year).  And to be able to understand and explain new concepts learnt in two languages is amazing to me! A very proud mummy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The week that was.....

Last week was a terrible time for me and my family with many difficulties to overcome, but somehow we managed to get through with support and help from some very special people.  The last few weeks have been difficult waiting on things to happen, that should be happening, chasing people here and there and being fobbed off.  Living in a different country to where these things are taking place with little or no support there is very difficult.  You expect things to be done in a certain timescale but these things just dont happen.  The worry and frustration is painful.  Nothing seemingly to go in our favor and struggling to stay positive by finding the little silver linings and victories where they hide.  Which seems to be increasingly difficult.  I know many others are going through similar or worse things than we are and things could be worse or different problems, but I pray that once we are out of this situation and we will be eventually, we will never be here again!

But after a very hard week, the toughest of this year so far (of the worst year of my life), there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel with agreements made and new opportunities found.  But until these things actually happen I dont count on anything for fear of being let down.  But maybe, just possibly, I hope we may be turning a corner.

The difficulties you meet will resolve themselves as you advance.  Proceed, and light will dawn, and shine with increasing clearness on your path ~ Jim Rohn

Monday, October 1, 2012

The times are a-changing!

The times are achanging, unfortunately not so much in my life as the weather. Every year is a little different at this time, and autumn is normally very slow and subtle. But this last week it changed in a big way, signifying summer is over! Although the lack of people about and restaurants closing early clearly signify the end of season :(

 The weather this week has turned overnight with cloud, rain and cooler temps. But I dont believe it is the end of the warm weather, as once the sun appears it soon warms up. I am reluctant to get the winter clothes out and am resisting as long as possible to put the duvets back on the beds!

Last year, the summer stayed for a long time and we were on the beach well into October but this year appears to be different. Many people say we dont really have an autumn as this change is so subtle, that overnight winter arrives to stay!

 As an english person I should have a natural aversion to rain and cloud but it never really bothered me. And to live in a place with such little rain and grey days is still something that is almost strange to me. This last year we have had such little rain, only about 6 days have we had any sight of rain and that was always short-lived. I start to crave something different from sunshine and blue sky! We were desperate for rain, I was craving to see the rain fall and then last week it did, it really came down. It was so refreshing and renewing somehow, and instead of making me down it lifted me.

Something I really miss from home is the proper changing of the seasons. When I was living there, it was something I didnt look forward to, the dark and cold nights. But now I miss it, especially the changing of the trees. Here, because we dont have the same type of trees and mostly because the temperature changes so slowly and subtley we dont not get the beautiful colours in the trees and I really miss it, more than ever. But its not just the trees, I am missing home, I have not been 'home' in over 3 years as much as I want to go, I have not been able to.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Gallery: 8pm

This week on The Gallery, the theme is 8pm.  What do you do at 8pm?

In our house generally it is bedtime, not for me, (although sometimes it could be!) but for my two girls.  Although 8pm can also on occasions be dinner time, if we are running late or its the weekend or holidays!     

Come and what others do at 8pm on The Gallery.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Freelance writer

In the last few months I have started doing some freelance writing.  I do it by picking up jobs from a work board, mostly blogging posts.  So I am not specifically working for one person or type of blog.  It covers all sorts of topics, from relationships, places, technology and many other things.

I started doing it, as I quite enjoy writing, always have but also for some extra cash.  But what has been interesting to me is the range of topics I have covered.  I pick the work by things I know about or interest me  and it is a very wide range, wider than I expected.  I am now enjoying it much more and will do more of it.

I have covered topics on various issues of Internet Marketing, Social Media for Hospitality and other related issues, fashion, travel and various products.  I have also written for International travel blogs and other organisations and publications.

So if you are looking for a freelance writer for your blog to do guest or sponsored posts or just to give you a hand with any writing work, give me a shout.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Gallery: Breakfast

This week on The Gallery is Breakfast

Breakfast in our house is one of two things if its weekend or holiday time, is usually very late and lazy but if its school time, its rush, eat, eat, eat, lets go!  

Breakfast in our house generally consists of two things, toast and cereal.  Mum eats toast pretty much everyday (i dont like cereal anymore) and the kids vary between toast and cereals.  Their favourite cereal is a portuguese cereal called Cerelac, which is a sweet flour based cereal which you mix with milk or water.  

Pop over and see what else is on The Gallery

Monday, September 17, 2012

The minefield that is starting school in Portugal

Today our oldest daughter starts her first year at Primary school here in Portugal and what a journey it has been, a quite stressful journey too.

Here in Portugal, children start school in the calendar year they turn six, so as our daughter's birthday is in January, she is one of the oldest or latest to start.  School is obviously mandatory from this age but it is up to the parents to register their child and to be aware of these rules.

One of the things which bugs me about living in Portugal is the lack of information and the difficulty in obtaining needed information, such as about schooling.  We knew via friends who have children already in school that we had to go to the central school in the area to register our daughter and that it had to be done by a certain date.  That was fine.  Then in late July, they put up a list in the same school, telling you where your child has got a place, thats fine.

From then the fun starts, trying to know what you need, when it starts, what needs to be paid for and how and when.  After several trips back and forth to the school over the past few weeks we have pretty much got it sorted, we think!!

First comes the question of when they start, we are told they will start in the week between 10th and 14th and that is all.  What books do we need, here in portugal, you buy the school books and supplies etc every year.  After several weeks and asking, we are told there is a list up at the school, so back we go again.  Still no date on starting though, but we are told we will be informed next week (ie the week before school starts!)

So now we have the books, but no starting date, now, what else is needed?  so off we go to the shopping centre where all the relevant shops are full of textbooks, folders, pens, bags and everything you need.  We stand there looking at the multitude of items, trying to figure out what is needed.  How many workbooks, does she need pens, pencils AND crayons, should she have A4 or A5 books?  I feel like im in a nightmare!  So once again we trek up to school to ask and are told that the local council will be providing the first years with the 'kit' they need, so that problem solved and money saved!! Bonus.

So now we just need to know when we start and how to get all the information about timings, dates, lunches etc.  In the previous years, parents would receive a phone call inviting them to a meeting, usually two days before the meeting is held and the weekday before school actually starts!!  But this year, they put it on the school website, the meeting is on the Friday, before they start the school today.  This is only announced the Monday beforehand.  How working people can sort their life, I have no idea with this lack and lateness of information.

So we go off to the meeting, where we are told about the school hours, where to get her school 'kit' and how to pay for lunches.  So then we rush off to pick up these things needed for the following Monday, stand in queues only to be told we dont need to worry about it until the end of the month and this is not the right place to be anyway!!

So it has been a bit of stressful couple of weeks, trying to get everything sorted and finding all the details, but here we are on the First day of school!!  Thank you to my wonderful husband, who without him, I would have been very lost in this situation.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Gallery: Beauty

This week's theme on The Gallery is Beauty.  

There are so many things that can be interpreted as beautiful and it is a very personal thing.  To me there are many things beautiful, the most being:

My children!

Beautiful landscapes and views
Things Mother Nature has given us

There are so many beautiful things in this world, and beauty is truly in the Eye of the beholder!  

Come and what else is Beautiful on The Gallery

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Through a post on Tots100, I found this great new organisation called Saying Goodbye, who are working with several organisations such as the Miscarriage Association to organise memorial services in the memory of 'the lost ones' - the babies who we never got to meet.  Many, many people have been through this, more than I imagined until it happened to me.

All over the UK, they are organising these services to allow parents and family members to formally remember their lost babies.  What a great idea I think, to give people a chance to share with others who have been in a similiar experience and are there to support each other.

I, unfortunately have had the experience of losing two babies, one in a missed miscarriage and one through an ectopic pregnancy that put me into emergency surgery with serious internal bleeding.  I think of my lost babies often and it annoys me how some people can be so mis-understanding of those who have been through it, and there are many of us.  So for Saying Goodbye to organise these services is wonderful to help those who have been through it.

For more information about the organisation and the services being held, press here

My body is a temple,
Holding this precious gift safe and sound
Like a priceless treasure
Never to be lost, never to be found


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cannot find the words

I want to write but cannot find the words.  In the last few weeks, my blog has been a kind of diary for me.  Im not a very open person and do not like to really share my feelings or show myself, but it has been helpful lately.  but now I cannot find the words, my head is foggy and confused, I feel lost, spinning.  My reality of what is possible is mixed with my wants that are out of my reach.  I believe in the almost impossible, always have, maybe that makes me a dreamer, living in the clouds, maybe it just makes me stupid.  I feel I had found a path and now have lost it again, fearing the future, feeling that I know it already.  I feel bound, muted, unable to fight.  maybe there is a greater cause in this, but right now I dont see it, but then you are not supposed to.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The fear of disappointment

For anyone who has been in my situation, of joblessness knows the hardship of looking for work and the ups and downs that can bring.  Through it all I have generally remained hopeful, apart from my odd sleepless night and down day.  This period has been very tough on all of us, I think (and hope) we have managed to shield our children fairly well and they have been less affected but they still have been living with less than most of the friends.  But of course, there are others worse off than us. We have been lucky to have some important support from a couple of people.

But the thing that was the hardest for me was the let downs, which every time got worse.  The job interviews or contacts who gave a positive response of possible job confirmation or offers to then just vanish as if into thin air.  The getting your hopes up, allowing yourself to dream of a turn around in life, a new start, an improvement and more options, less stress, more happiness - only for that to be taken away.

Im not talking about a general job interview and you getting your hopes up but something which appeared more substantial. Its the worst feeling for me, but when you have someone giving you the impression or idea that they are really going to follow up, giving you the possibility of a big positive change in your life, only for that not to proceed is such a let down and something I had not experienced until this period in my life.  Of course, things have not turned my way at times but when in this situation, where someone gives you a 'light', a chance to get back on your feet and you believe them , only to be let down, worse each time.

I thought all this was behind me and positive changes ahead (which they are) but recently my husband was approached by someone he knew with an offer that could change our life for the foreseeable future, something of our dreams.  We knew it was probably too good to be true but you let yourself believe and dream, not seeing why or what benefit is to that person to fool you or lead you along.  But again, we were disappointed and let down, it made us take our eye off the path and look another way, build our hopes up and dream of a better way.  And that hurts.   

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Gallery: Sky

This week's theme on The Gallery is Sky.

Normally the skies are pretty clear here and this soft blue, not the deep blue that you get elsewhere but this quite perfect blue.  Obviously if the sun is shining on a calm sea it is like an amazing blinding light on a mirror that hurts your eyes. 

 But occasionally when we have some clouds, I guess with the heat they create these candy floss like shapes of whispiness!  

Come over and see some more skies at The Gallery

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer successes

Our summer has been a bit drab or boring if you will.  We have not had a lot of activity mostly for financial reasons, of course there are things to do for free, but not everyday and even if they dont have an entrance fee, there is a cost to get there or expenses needed on the day!  So it has been a pretty quiet summer for us. We have the pool here in our complex, which luckily has not been too busy and the beach a few minutes drive away.  Also with everything going on we havent really had the mind to enjoy summer if you know what I mean.

But we have had some nice times, unfortunately not with so many photos this year as my camera is broken :-( which is a big shame as it looks to be our last here in Portugal.

We have had family visit and spent some time with them, we have had our local facarte which offers a few days of entertainment, visits with friends, days on the beach etc.

But we have had two significant successes this summer with both my children.  Sophie who is 6 and a half years old, despite having lived with a pool accessible every day has always been a bit scared of the water and not confident at all.  When we first arrived and she was 2 and a half, no matter how hot it got, she would not get in the pool for more than 10 minutes!  She has gotten a little better over time, having taken to a ring and quite happily splashing about, occasionally putting her face into the water, but wouldnt put her head back, no jumping, lifting nothing, she hated it and would cry.  But in the last month or so, a BIG change has occurred  as if overnight, she got confident.  Suddenly she wanted to jump and start to learn to swim so holding her, we helped but that only lasts so long.  So we bought her some armbands (she would never wear them before, I think because of feeling of lack of all round support) and off she went.  Now she goes underwater, jumps into the pool and all, its amazing and if over night and she loves the water.

Our second big success is my younger daughter, who has turned 3 at the beginning of the month. With both my children I have purposely left potty training to the nearer side of three, giving them as much time before training them.  So when Grace was about 2 and 8 months or so, (about the same time as Sophie) I decided to start trying.  I had tried a few months before but she clearly was not ready.  So we started and tried for a few days, she was excited to wear knickers, and mess about with the toilet but nothing happened.  On and off we tried but were clearly getting nowhere.  She would sit on the toilet do nothing and then within minutes pee on the floor or hold it for hours, until I put a nappy back on and then fill it within 30 minutes, very frustrating!  We put here in pull up pants and at nursery she would follow her friends who were also training, eventually after a few weeks she started going in nursery but still nothing at home.  Then last week, it suddenly clicked.  We put her in knickers for some time every day, in the hope of success but also due to the heat but suddenly she said she needed to make pee pee, so we put her on the toilet like I had done a hundred times before but this time it worked, I was so happy!  And as I cheered her on, she laughed, a good sign.  Not wanting to get too cocky and hail success, I cautiously waited, but she did it again and again.  Now we have had about 5 days and all seems to have fallen into place, as if overnight.  I knew she would get it but had no idea how long it would take and worried with her starting pre-school where she would need to be potty trained within a month!

So despite a quiet and little bored summer for the kids (if not the parents, too stressed to relax) we have had two big successes!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Moving Stories by Vegemitevix

Vegemitevix has kindly added me to her Moving Stories collection - a collection of stories about real expats from all over the world and their experiences.  She has gathered the stories from 4 different expats to give their 'version' of expat life, the good, the bad, the sad!  They are very interesting to see all the different experiences people have when they become expats in different places.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not!

I have added my story, which is now sadly coming to an end, but would love for you to come and have a read and some of the others of course.

Moving stories: When an Expat life comes to an end

She will also be making the stories into an ebook very soon.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The sadness of leaving

So now we are in the preparation mode to leave Portugal and return to England where I have a new job to go to.  As anyone know has done this or anything similar the conflicting emotions you go through are terrible.  The rational mind fights with the irrational and although we have had a really rough time, hardest time of my life, I still dont want to go and somehow wish things could be different, even though we have done everything we can and the horizon here is grey.

We are leaving the sunny skies of the Algarve for the grey skies of the UK, in the hope of smoother sailing and more choices.  I know things will not be easy but it cannot be the storm we have here.

This last fortnight we have had my husbands family, all of them, he has 3 sisters, to parents and various nieces and nephews here in the Algarve.  Not staying with us, but we have spent some days with them.  Most of them live in or around Lisbon and one sister in Macau so these days they dont have much chance to be all together in an environment like this.  Yesterday was the last time we will see them for 'who knows' how long or when they will all be together again and that has made me sad.

And so now my emotional rollercoaster starts again.  When we made the decision to go, we were filled with conflicting thoughts and questions, then it settled down and we set our minds, determined to go, setting our rational mind over the emotional.  And then suddenly wham you are back on that rollercoaster, doubting your decision and trying to find another way.

I keep trying to think of how I felt when we left to come here and although apprehensive, it was exciting and full of promise but somehow with the move back, I dont feel the same way.  Maybe its because of the hard time we have had and the stigma that has left.  Im not sure but I know I need to get my head moving forward.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

That time of year

It is that time of year when we have our Facarte in our little village of Conceicao, near Tavira.  It is one of my favourite times of year as the place comes alive with people and movement.  It is busy and the atmosphere changes.  Our little village, as much as I like it, can be a little quiet and samey, but at this time it becomes something else.  And to have such a large event for such a small place is great for all I think.

This year I worried that it would be smaller with people cutting their costs but it is just as big, if not maybe bigger than last year!  There are some eighty stalls and they are better than last year with nicer and more interesting things.  If I had some money I would be spending it.

It brings in a huge increase of business for the restaurants and bars, which is great and a terrific boost to most of them, who spend most of the year just hanging on.

We went over last night and there was no shortage of people coming through, and even better to see people together and happy.  As so often lately here people are fed up and complaining and the news is always bad, there are less smiles and people look stressed more than ever, but this weekend makes people smile!  that is always a good thing.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Why is change so hard?

So a monumental decision has been made in the past few days, spurred on by some other 'happenings' as well.  Now my head is spinning as I try to process this massive shift in our lives.

As some of you who read my blog know, we have been struggling here in Portugal with a lack of work and financial difficulties, due to that.  This has been going on, up and down for the past three years, but now we have decided to make a change (I could say give in, but I dont see it as giving in as I believe we have given it our best shot and tried all we can to turn this around) and have made the decision to return to England.  But this is by no means an easy decision and one I find I am questioning with my irrational head, but my rational head needs to step up.

Im sure with time I will get my head around it, just need to give it time to set it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

London Olympics Opening Ceremony

After my 'sad' post of last week onto something more happy, the opening of the London Olympics last night. I am writing this before I have read any articles, news or others opinions as I wanted to say my piece uninfluenced by others.

I thought it was great, really loved it.  I thought the way they did it differently using the thoroughly British theme was great.  I feel it took everything that is great about Britain, some things which we maybe overlook or forget at times and showed what a strong country it is.  I loved all the different styles they used in all of it and all the characters, mr bean and james bond etc.  The idea of starting with the history that built the country and using things like our literature and music were wonderful.  The thing I loved most I think was the hill where they put all the flags of the countries competing, a real, typical hillside.  I felt it was uplifting and very well executed and one of the best, if not the best opening ceremony.

Living outside the country, looking in, so to speak I find people are pessimistic and unhappy, so quick to put things down and complain.  And Im sure the internet is filled with people who didnt like it and have problems with it.  But I thought it was great, very well done and made me proud to be British.  These games are a great opportunity for the country, of course not for all but for the majority it is.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Burning fires at dawn

Source: Melanie Maps/EPA/Lusa 
This week in Tavira, we have had a terrible fire that burned for over three days.  It has been very concerning and caused immesaurable damage, burning a third of the area in the district.  It started on wednesday afternoon, up in the hills of Serra do caldeirao, which stretches across the East Algarve from near the Spanish border to central Algarve near Faro.  At the worst point, the fire was out of control on three fronts, stretching over 40 miles.  With strong winds and reiginitions causing big problems.  

On wednesday night, the sky was a horrible colour, with a sinister grey tint from the clouds of smoke which stretched as far as the eye can see.  The next morning, things had only gotten worse after the strong winds of the night before and we woke to smokey clouds and ash falling like drizzle on both sides.  Now the fire was spreading south and west towards the town of Sao Bras.  They bought in more firefighters and units from the army, with more than 700 hundred men, over 150 vehicles and several planes, they were still unable to get it under control.  People had to be evacuated from their homes.

Finally on saturday afternoon, they managed to dominate the fire and now have it under control.  So what now?  They are investigating the source of the fire as many of the fires this week have been caused by arson. But the cost of the damage to our beautiful area is uncountable and means huge losses for many whose lives depend on the Serra and its land, not to mention the animals lost.  Miles of eucaplytus, olives, vineyards etc, all gone, to take years to regenerate.

And now all the 'officials' can do is blame each other for why it took so long to get under control.  This drives me crazy, this blame policy.  Everyone wants to look like the hero, but there are no heroes in this story and blaming the others is of no use, the damage is done.  Now is the time to start the repairs not to argue.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Gallery: Food

This week's theme on The Gallery is Food,

So to go with the theme I wanted to add a typical Portuguese food.

Snails or caracois as they are known here.

My husband and daughters love these, but not me!  I am programmed not to eat garden snails!  But they are very popular here in summer.

We usually eat them out in cafes or restaurants as a snack, but at this time we had some at home.  As you can see, while they were soaking and cleaning, some of them kept trying to escape.  Another reason why I dont like them, I dont like to see my food moving!!

Come and see the other entries in the Gallery

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer is a strange time

Summer is always a bit of a strange time for me being an expat living in a foreign country, where many of my fellow 'countrymen' come for their yearly get away.

To live here and to see others come here on their holidays always brings me mixed feelings.  Im not really sure why.  Maybe because I would love to go somewhere hot and sunny and different for a holiday, but I live here.  Why should I feel the need to go somewhere which is essentially the same as where I live.  But you have to understand to live in a tourist area is nothing like taking a holiday there.

A holiday fills you with excitement (normally) of visiting a new place or a place you love to go and explore.  Its a time to get away from everything that is the 'norm' and relax.  Time to soak up some sun and live in a different way for a short time.  And to see people doing that kinda makes me envious, even though I live in the same place that they are only visiting for a short period.  

To live here is like living anywhere, you still have the same daily things to do, the school run, the grocery shop, bills to pay.  Life is not so exciting, the only difference is the sun shines and we have access to the beach much easier.  

But alas it is not a holiday!  hope all you lucky ones taking your summer hols have a wonderful time!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tips for Travelling with a Toddler

Source:   D Sharon Pruitt      

Travelling with a toddler can be difficult for many reasons.  Many children do not like to be out of their comfort zone, especially a child travelling for the first time or one who does not travel on a regular basis.  Children like to know their environment, and travelling can take them away from what they are familiar with and also upset their schedule. 

To go on a trip with a toddler needs planning, especially for the packing.  It is best to make a list and then remove anything you dont really need or can do without.  As it is easily possible to take half the house if you don’t plan well.

To ensure a good trip, you need to basically keep them fed, watered, entertained and comfortable.  To make sure they are happy outside of their normal environment, a familiar and popular toy such as a teddy bear or fluffy dog is essential for the child.  Most children generally have a favourite toy which they take everywhere with them.

Make sure you have plenty of snacks that they like and drinks.  But make sure they are fairly healthy, as you dont want them getting ill on sweet things.  You should take games or small toys that they enjoy to play, something which hopefully will keep them occupied for a fair amount of time.  Many parents nowadays travel with gadgets such as portable DVD players or iPads to keep their children occupied, but not every parent has access to these things.

If you are travelling with a toddler in a confined space where the child will not be able to move around much, such as a car or airplane it is especially important to be prepared and to think about how to make them comfortable.  Most young children will need to sleep on a long journey, so this needs to be thought about.  If you can pack a pillow and small blanket, this can help. 

If you are driving or on a long journey, make regular stops to break up the journey.  Travelling with others can also help as it gives you some help and can help occupy the children, especially if there is other children travelling with you.  I also suggest taking some medication and a change of clothes within easy reach as you never know and my children always seem to have the habit of getting some short-lived virus when we are away, which without preparation can ruin a nice trip.

If you have any other tips, you find useful, I would love to hear them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My favourite local restaurants in Tavira

For those of you who dont know, I live near Tavira in the East Algarve and I would like to share my favourite restaurants in my area.  If you are coming out this way, please try to stop by and give them a try.

Mariscos & Petiscos - Cabanas.  This is a seafood restaurant, which is very good.  They actually have two restaurants separated by a courtyard, which is open in the warmer months.  One restaurant is the seafood and the other is more fish.  The quality is very good, set on the front of Cabanas facing the water, its a very pleasant place to be.  Very popular with locals here and from across the border alike.  You will find many beach dwellers stopping here for lunch in the summer months.  Good selections of wine, very family friendly with children's menu and other dishes aside of seafood and fish.  Highly recommended.  Average spend €20 per head.  They also have a very good value take away offering a good variety of dishes, including steak (picanha), fish and chips and grilled ribs.

Restaurant da Bairrada - Tavira, on the EN125 towards Vila real Sto Antonio.  This is another good restaurant, serving the speciality of Leitao or Suckling pig.  They also do a good varied menu with good steaks, I recommend the 'Steak on the Stone' (bife de pedra), pork dishes and omelettes, salads etc.  Again, another popular restaurant for locals and visitors due to their speciality.  They have a nice terrace open in the summer with a small play area for children.  Average spend €15 - 18 per head.

Sol da Praia - Conceicao de Tavira.  This is our small local restaurant / bar, very typical type of place, popular with locals but increasing frequented by local expats and visitors.  The attraction is the food, very good food, that people come from miles around.  They offer the typical 'dish of the day' (prato da dia) which includes bread, butter, cheese and olives, a drink, whether it be a beer, house wine, soft drink or water, main course, dessert and coffee, all for €7!!  Typical portugese dishes, but very tasty.  Childrens portion at a fraction of the price depending on age.  They also have another snack menu with sandwiches, burgers etc.  Service is good, quality and value is excellent!

So next time you're in the area, give them a try.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Purple is the colour!

Here in the East Algarve, we are having these beautiful purple trees blossoming.  They are everywhere you look, giving this lovely purple hue to the area.  The colour is so rich, much better than these photos show.  
But the stupid thing is, in four years of living here, I have never noticed them before, but they are remarkable!!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

No subject

Im all about the images at the moment.  
Cannot find the words

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Gallery: Sunshine

This week's theme on The Gallery is Sunshine.

I am very lucky to live in a hot, sunny country that gets over 300 days of sunshine a year.  And of course, when its sunny, if you can, where do you go?  

The Beach, of course!  

I love the way the sun shines on the sea and makes it look like a beautiful mirror or a sheer fabric of complete softness. 

Come over to the Gallery now!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Gallery: Picture Postcard

This week on the Gallery over at Sticky Fingers is Picture Postcard.

I am quite lucky in that I love in (what I think) is a beautiful area, full of beautiful beaches, rolling countryside with flowing rivers, orange groves and 'sheep' :-)

This is one of my favourites, to me it gives a feeling of freedom, relaxation and warmth.

Come and see some others on The Gallery

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Oh my dear blog, how I have been neglecting you!

Dear, sweet blog,

Me:  Im sorry I have been neglecting you, but I have been far too busy doing other things.

Blog: So what have you been doing?

Me: Well let me see, I have been looking / worrying after hubbie after nasty fall, doing some work for TTT, some of it, highly unsuccessful, teaching english and generally dealing with life, that is not so inspiring

Blog: But please dont neglect me, anymore, I get so lonely

Me: I know, my dear blog, I promise to do more with you very soon.  I have not forgotten you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Where can an expat call 'Home'

Lately I have been reading a lot of posts about expats and what they consider home.  In these difficult times which we are living, there is big migration.  Some people going back to their home country while others are leaving in search of 'shelter' from this economic storm.

Once a person decides to expatriate their home, I think there will always be some 'missing' for home, but over the years that gets less and eventually disappears as your new expat country becomes home.  But many of us expats are also guilty of making the comparisons for many years after we leave between our home and our new country, often over criticising or praising, giving us a incorrect view, based on our emotions.

But once you leave your home country, can you ever 'really' return?  A home country for many provides the idea of a haven, a familiar place, after all that is what a home is.  A place that is familiar and comforting.  But what happens once you mix cultures and become accustomed to a new way of life, not necessarily better ( nowhere is perfect) but different.  Does this change your perspective of home?  I think it has to, but to everyone in a different way.  And this to me is largely affected by your experience in your new country.  It also depends on your reasons for leaving your home country as well, if those reasons are major, you view of your home country must change as you start a new life in your new adopted 'home'.  It also depends on how long the person has been away from their 'home' country, the longer you are away, of course the more changes that will have happened.

I read a post about a woman who after ten years and the breakdown of her relationship decided to go home and was basically disappointed and disillusioned by what her 'home' had become.  But after a decade away surely you cannot expect to go back to the 'same' place, of course things will have changed, but more importantly you will have changed.  And we can all be guilty of putting on rose tinted glasses, especially when things around us have turned 'grey'.  But if you are in that situation, especially after a long length of time, you cannot expect to go back and things be as you left them and you have to be tolerant of that.  And also if you have come from a 'grey' place, you have high expectations of the new place, whether it is your home or not and that can lead you to disappointment.  Often we can return home to feel like an outsider as well, with no longer a place to call 'home'.

Nowhere is perfect in this world, everywhere has their pros and cons and we make our choices and decisions based on that.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lost in the dark...

This year is almost a third through and so far has not been a good year, in fact one of my worst.  I am having a very difficult time and nothing seems to go in our favour or as we expect, leaving me struggling.

This week is Depression Awareness Week, and although I have never been diagnosed with depression, I know it is something I have been affected with.  Depression is a crippling illness which can lead to death (through suicide).  Unfortunately for too long it is something that people have been ashamed to admit, dont recognise or just overlook as 'normal' blues.  Many people expect that they should be able to cope with everything all the time, and to be depressed is a sign of weakness, but it is not.  It is an illness like any other that needs treatment.

Of course, everyone gets down sometimes, especially when life is challenging but depression is something much worse that lasts longer, probably gradually getting worse.  Sometimes, it can come in bouts, which can last for weeks, months or years.

Common signs of depression are:

Feelings of despair and failure
Lack of appetite and weight less
Trouble sleeping and tiredness
Concentration problems
Nausea and other physical problems

If you think you or someone you know is suffering with depression, you must get help.  There is no shame in asking for help.  Everyone needs help from time to time.

A good source of help and information is Black Dog Tribe, a new resource started by Ruby Wax to provide support and information.  They have a good facebook page

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring time in the Algarve

One thing that I love and that really interests me here in the Algarve where I live are the plants and flowers.  Still after several years of living here, I am amazed by the beauty of the surroundings.  Every day I drive past palm trees, orange groves, fig, carob and olive trees to name a few.  things that growing up would be things in movies, books and seen on our yearly family foreign holidays.  I never imagined it would be part of my daily life, but I never tire of seeing them.

This time of year brings the wild flowers, fields full of red, yellow, blue and pinks.  Everywhere I look I see colour, so beautiful.  They grow everywhere and anywhere.

Unfortunately the photos are not great and do not show the true depths of colour, but I hope you still enjoy.