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.