Week 37: Busy

Taxas e licenças

‘Taxas e licenças’

Staircase in Tavira town hall

Leaving the town hall


One morning this week we returned to the Taxas e licenças counter of the town hall in Tavira. It was one minute before nine. A minute later the civil servant arrived. We greeted him and gave him our atestados (parish certificates proving our address) and passports. He photocopied the passports and returned them to us. He didn’t ask for any other papers, just excused himself to go back to his desk.

After examining his computer for a while he began shaking his head. ‘No,’ he said. He stood up. ‘No, it’s not possible.’ He was speaking in English to us now, although we’d started off in Portuguese. ‘There’s nothing I can do about it,’ he said, walking towards us with a regretful expression.

Our hearts sank simultaneously.

He joined us at the counter. ‘The system is down. Can you come back later? Have a coffee or something?’

Our hearts rose again.

Twenty minutes later – after coffee and cake – we were back. The man looked happy and everything was fine. Perfect, in fact. We paid a small fee at an adjacent desk and returned to the counter where the helpful woman we’d talked to when we first came to the town hall smiled a huge congratulatory smile and proudly showed us our certificates, giving us the chance to check our names and address had been correctly rendered. They had. We returned several days later and picked up the embossed and signed certificates of our residency of the República Portuguesa.

House in Tavira; even the broom is blue

House in Tavira; even the broom is blue


At home we’ve mostly been living with dust and noise as a new bathroom is built, electrics are repaired, cupboard space is created and a small interior wall is demolished. We’ve had builders, carpenters, electricians and plumbers around. Almost every day new plans for the kitchen arrive by email from Germany; the new kitchen is to be installed early in March, after which the ‘spare’ kitchen in the other half of the house will be transformed into the Backstube, the bakery.

Small wall demolished; 'spare' kitchen behind

Small wall demolished; ‘spare’ kitchen behind

Tractor taking rubble away

Tractor taking rubble away

Half the workers in the house have been Portuguese, the others German or Swiss. I don’t know why so many German-speakers. We followed up recommendations from various sources and generally came back with Germans, Swiss or Portuguese. Nobody from the UK. Something cultural there to explore one day. Maybe an outcome of the greater extent of professional training in the trades that occurs in Germany and Switzerland, and perhaps that training is more exportable to other European countries than the UK equivalent. The British seem to come here later in life, to retire rather than to work. (Not in my case.) An exception is a young British woman, a film editor who also makes beautiful, bespoke terracotta tiles. She has made us some gorgeous tiles to fill the gap in the floor where the connecting wall between houses 1 and 2 was removed, and once I’ve grouted them in I shall post a picture.


We have bought my dream car. Husband has the jeep, and I have Rolie, short for Roland (French pronunciation please), a Renault 4 GTL. Here he is. What a beauty.

Rolie at the front of the house

Rolie at the front of the house

All this and editing cookbooks too. A busy week.

Lordy, bless him

Lordy, bless him

Spot the almond tree (actually two of them)

Spot the almond trees


  1. fatma

    Had no idea you were getting sooooo much work done. I did wonder why interiors of the new abode have been in short supply…. Bonafide citizens of Portugal now. This is serious. Love the car, love Lordy, and love the almond blossom!!

  2. Hazel

    Corks looked at the pic of Lordy in the sun and demanded a flight to Portugal with immediate effect. Bucolic bliss is yours! Can see exactly why you traded in the delights of LFW et al! xx

  3. Janet M

    Great news!

  4. Fiona

    We had a Renault 4 just the same as yours when I was a child! Does it still have that dash mounted gear stick??


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