I never even noticed this beautiful carob tree before; it was inaccessible and hidden. Now it invites you to visit it. It is a perfect example of how the permaculture work on the land has opened it up in whole new ways

About to become deluxe accommodation for a sapling

Swales awaiting their protective covering of straw

A mango tree in the ‘tropical swale’, which is lined up to get more water than the other swales


A dust cloud from the Sahara landed on us this week, turning everything light brown. It must have met with humidity somewhere because it adhered to everything it touched. Vehicles queued up at car washes for the next couple of days. It took me several hours to clean the garden furniture. The swimming pool’s hitherto white cover is now dark sand but I haven’t tackled that yet. As for all the leaves in the garden, it would be a task for the Queen of Hearts and many obedient decks of cards to restore the colour of those. We need some rain to fall – and it is forecast for the weekend.

The battle of the corks continued all week, with the sparrows, now experts in the task, ousting the twin-cork contraption every night and us replacing it the next day, until a slip of Husband’s hand brought most of the rest of the fragile nest down. What this revealed, before the breeze took them away, was a luxurious lining of soft feathers. Now the swallows will have to rebuild, and the sparrows have nothing left to fight for possession of. The sparrows are not so hard done by. Flocks of them have taken advantage of the seeding of the hill for a feeding frenzy.

Also luxuriously feather-bedded have been the new trees brought home in the black van last week. They have been housed like racehorses. A few months ago, before we had any idea we were about to embark on a permaculture project, a landscape expert told me, ‘Make a hundred-dollar hole for a ten-dollar tree.’ How true. The excavating of the holes was, of course, done by costly machine. Heaven provided the first watering. Compost and manure made the first layers of bedding in the spacious hole, then each tree – healthy-looking but none the less insubstantial saplings every one of them – was introduced to its new home. After that, infilling with more precious stuff, a good watering, a layer of cardboard, another watering, and finishing off with a counterpane of straw. Each tree lives in an advantageous part of a swale, and we have high hopes of them.

I have not been without my protest armour this week. While Husband and visiting friend took on the job of repainting some exterior wood, I went to Lisbon by chartered coach. It meant leaving home at 7 a.m. and getting back after 1 a.m., and it meant standing outside the Assembleia da Républica for some five hours. As usual, I was Sister Anna with the banner. I need only to stand in one place for a few moments for someone to ask me to hold their side of the banner and then to disappear for good – though another kind-hearted protester can always be relied upon to relieve me when it gets too much. At one point someone asked me which group the banner I was supporting represented. I wasn’t sure. ‘I’m just a general banner holder,’ I explained.

The date – 23 February – and the timing were to coincide with the hearing inside the assembleia for ASMAA, a campaigning group seeking to protect the Algarve. The hearing was occasioned by the anti-oil petition with its 42,000 signers – included among them some dear readers of this blog. It had taken a while to get the date for a hearing, and in the meantime the DGRM (the department responsible for natural resources) had authorised a licence for drilling offshore anyway. But ASMAA decided it was worth going ahead with the hearing, not least out of respect for all the signers. Additionally, and rather hopefully, a lawyer has been digging up all the shaky ground around the 1994 law that allows oil-drilling to take place, and has found that the law itself is arguably illegitimate, and therefore so too all the contracts it has given rise to. The whole caravan is a mirage, swathed in desert sand …

The outcome of the hearing was good. Not so much a step in the right direction as a leap, I was told. And what’s more the politicians heard us chanting outside and it disturbed their usual smooth surfaces.

With all this going on, Carnival completely passed us by.


  1. julie

    another great blog x

  2. The Birthday Girl

    On this My Special Day (as well as Ash Wednesday), this morning’s blog was an additional delight! Can’t wait to see those trees all groaning with delicious provender! From the photos, that area of ex-scrub looks truly magnificent. xx

  3. fatrma

    I am surprised the petition didn’t garner more than 42,000 signatures; ASMAA is reaching out internationally and many people I know signed it……Climate change negative sponsored activities continue to affront many of us. In the meantime, you are doing your bit – more trees, Yay!

  4. Edith (Post author)

    That means you must have got signers on board, Fatma – thanks so much. It was enough to raise a debate, and give us a chance to make our presence felt outside the assembleia. xx

  5. Patricia Roberts

    I fear the sparrows are winning,but you wonderful protesters are making yourselves heard ,you deserve a reward working as hard as you do.l feel very proud of you.

  6. Clare

    The swales remind me of the terraced fields of La Gomera (and elsewhere). Is that just a trick of the eye?

    1. Edith (Post author)

      Clare, I don’t know. (I had to look up La Gomera!) But permaculture is nothing more than an agglomeration of traditional agricultural techniques, so who knows? mx

  7. Madeleine Day

    It all sounds so very exciting. And looking good too! Thanks for the update – the week is not the same, without your blog!

  8. lionel

    Just trying to see whether I am quarantined or not – but perhaps the company in blog quarantine is really exciting and fun?! You know, rather go to hell than heaven?

    Hoping for gentle rain to settle in those ambitious little trees.

    Looks good.

    What do the locals think?


    1. Edith (Post author)

      Just took you out of quarantine. Most odd! Até ja.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: