Week 9: Back ‘home’

The agricultural coop in Sta Catarina

The agricultural co-op in Sta Catarina

Hmm. I was caused to question the limpidity of the Doutora of Taxes’ explanation when we were with the lawyer on Wednesday. It seems I hadn’t understood an aspect of the fiscal number/residency relationship after all. No matter. The advogado knows the doutora and they will confer. I have the same issue – of non-comprehension – with my accountant in the UK. Through whatever alchemy he uses, he comes up with the amount I need to pay in tax. Occasionally I try to understand how the figure is calculated. I don’t want to question it, I just want to understand it. His latest email to me began: ‘You do not try my patience. You simply have a totally different skill set and knowledge base.’ How diplomatic. Better just accept that bureaucracy is not for the uninitiated. These people undertake years of training.

Our lawyer in Portugal has a very pleasant demeanour, with something of a poker face. Even after we’d told him that the land of our prospective property was not fenced but had some markers (we thought); that the property had been more than one address originally; that part of the water supply was on someone else’s land with a verbal agreement and no meter, he managed to look unruffled. But he did say:

‘Ah well, it is the real Algarve.’

I wonder if he knew how pleased I was to hear that.

Let us see what complications emerge, and hope for the best that those with the necessary knowledge base can sort them out.

I mostly travel with lemons in my suitcase these days. Gift from First Friends’ tree

I mostly travel with lemons in my suitcase these days. Gift from First Friends’ tree

On the way to the airport we saw the buttercup flash of an oriole – the golden bird known in Portuguese as papa-figos or ‘fig-pecker’ – passing in front of us. The journey home was comfortable. I say ‘home’ because London still is, and feels like, home. The smell of mountain herbs has been replaced by diesel fumes, the noise of cicadas with sirens, and an entire colour palette has been removed from in front of our eyes, but it still feels like coming home. Husband remains 100 per cent happy, committed and unwavering. I, while I wouldn’t change our plans for the world, and have every pair of fingers crossed that they will come to fruition, do still feel fluttery nerves about it all.

Flat sale

In London I visited our estate agent to find that the buyer’s solicitor has apparently ‘lost’ the files for a second time, and that the estate agent’s progress chaser left her job a week or so earlier, with no replacement and no word to us. We would have every reason to withdraw from this sale but, assured of the buyer’s commitment, we are hanging on in. At least the prospect of loss enables me to experience how I would feel if we couldn’t make this move: and I know that, nerves aside, I really want to try out this new life.


This will be where we get our olives pressed

This will be where we get our olives pressed


  1. Keith Loven

    I just wanted to let you know how much I look forward to my weekly distraction from work!

  2. Pauline

    Loving reading this and I can’t think of a more perfect choice for you – after all you spent much of your childhood living abroad! I hope one day to see this in print – perhaps with some fabulous bread recipes too 🙂

  3. Kate Kelly-Tanguay

    After several weeks no comments from me may I cram them all into one offering?
    I loved the story of your desk as I also feel very attached to mine (a second hand sloping school desk) at which I am presently sitting.
    I am very tickled that lemons might be replacing shoes in your luggage (but not, I am pleased to see a beautiful pair of Italian ones). Although how many lemons equate to the weight of a pair of shoes I ask myself.
    Your accountant in the UK sounds a treasure (like mine) unlike the seemingly disorganised estate agent and solicitor..From my reading of the Guardian on line from afar ‘losing’ files seems a major national occupation at the moment.
    Perhaps the familiar feeling of home can depend on the very air that we breathe and so when your lungs have ‘cleared’ themselves of the London fumes (and that takes a little time) you will breathe only what you share with the papa- figos – the smells and air (maybe also the figs) and find yourself at home.

  4. Janet M

    I was laughing out loud at your description of your accountant, escpecially the line ‘bureacracy is not for the uninitiated’. But, it sounds like everything is moving forward, and that is the right direction.

  5. fatma nedjib

    Back ‘home’ (London!) myself and playing catch up again. Yes: no fences, shared water, no water meter, impenetrable tax processes – sounds like ‘the campo’! Enjoy the limitlessness of it!


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