Week 49: Carnation Revolution

Dia da independência, commemorated at the town hall with over-size carnations

Freedom Day (25 April): commemorating the Revolução dos Cravos (Carnation Revolution) 41 years ago: a peaceful military coup that overthrew a dictator, followed by the transition to democracy and the ending of the country’s colonial wars in Africa – at Tavira town hall

Taking a closer look

Taking a closer look at the model gun

Celebrating with traditional dancing

Traditional dancing

I love the hats

I love the hats


Peak wild flower seems to have been reached. I shall have to scale back on the posies around the house. The gusts of citrus scent have tailed off too, allowing the steady background note of resinous Cistus ladanifer to dominate once more. We got the land cleared on the hill behind us: fire prevention. When summer really sets in, all the greenery between the trees could turn to tinder, waiting for a stray match. I have heard people’s tales of a major fire in this region a few years back, and how they feared for their lives. It’s not just us, of course; bit by bit, all around us parcels of land are being ploughed over. Marking of plots is another thing happening all around; one of our next jobs to do. A new regulation means that all landowners must identify their plots with numbered and initialled white stones/posts. Who-owns-what has long been an issue and the local government is trying to introduce some kind of system. It’s fascinating to see the initials appearing. The land we ‘own’ is behind our house; there’s a small patch of land in front, by the path down to the river, that is rumoured to be ours, too. The fact that no one else yet has claimed it suggests it might be so. It’s one of the places Horse used to graze when he was here.

At our house, the sparrows have been busy. Many fine strands of nest-lining have been selected and carried in through the mud tunnel. I imagine they have quite a few eggs in there by now. We should hear hatchlings before too long . . . unless, that is, the swallows get their way. The swallows are now bombing the nest. My sympathies have switched from the swallows to the squatter sparrows. Such drama, all on our front terrace.

Red-rumped swallows on our telegraph wire

Red-rumped swallows on our telegraph wire

A good scratch, which seems to have dislodged something substantial

A good scratch, which seems to have dislodged something substantial

Red-rumped swallow bombing the sparrows who have nested in their mud-building

Swallow attempting to take back the nest


And not the only drama around here lately. I don’t know quite what happened to me but one day this week I had a total collapse of morale. Things got on top of me. I’m not sure what it was about. All I know is that I was very much out of sorts. In this state I drove home in Rolie and decided not to reverse into the garage in the usual fashion but – inexplicably, other than being-out-of-sorts – to try a new way, and in so doing reversed Rolie into the millstone instead. Small damage to Rolie; ruination of my self-belief. By chance, one of my sisters called that night. I was still in pieces. Having moved country herself, she understood. ‘I have backing-Rolie-into-millstone days too,’ she said. (This is not literally true, you understand. 1. She’s an amazing driver. Used to drive a double-decker bus around London. 2. She does not drive a Renault 4. But you get the drift. Rolie-reversing as metaphor for life wobbles.) I guess moving country does give you a lot of work to do and a lot to think about. It’s not the easy choice. Do I regret it? No, not at all. Living here feels like the biggest treat in the world. I just have to make sure I’m up to it.

Talkative, French-accented Costa, from whom I bought the car, has recommended a mechanic to fix Rolie up. We’re going to meet at the garage tomorrow so he can introduce me. Tomorrow also sees the beginning of the building of the wall that will separate off Husband’s bakery; once that’s done, and the final, three-phase electrical connection is made, he can buy the oven he has long wanted and get baking properly.

The celebrations of 25 April, Freedom Day, are over and the next big event is the first of May, Labour Day. Maria tells me our river valley will be full of people having a festa. That will be something to see.



  1. Hazel

    I take it you’re now learning the dances so that you can do them in the square next year!!! I’ll be in the crowd cheering you on! xx

  2. fatma

    Your photos are great. Really portray what you are writing about – the beautiful red rumped swallows on the wire, and dive bombing the hotly contested nest! It’s difficult to know where ones sympathies should lie: the red rumped swallow so lovely and elegant; the sparrow so small, vulnerable and virtually disappeared from the English garden habitat….Perhaps best to allow nature to assert itself as it will! The dip in humour is upsetting but yes, all too common. I even experienced the same when I moved from my lovely flat to my now house – actually sat and cried about the third night in! Of course, I wouldn’t swap the two options given the choice!

  3. Jamie

    As a long term resident, it has been fascinating to read the weekly ofertas of a new arrival, well-informed and well-supported, but with little actual experience of living here – you now owe it to us to continue for at least one year after actual arrival here? Though year 2, when the novelty has worn off, may be even more interesting? Can your second Spring Awakening be as wonderful as the first?

    I look fwd to one of your well-written, well-observed cameos, of non-Portuguese, non-avian residents and/or transients, who, I find, become increasingly interesting as the summer advances (only, of course, if they don’t read your blog?)

    Just emerged from a lie-down in a darkened room after an, unfortunately, necessary trip to Alber-fuhrer! Though, you should not knock that “luxurious life with the ocean on your doorstep” – sufficiently luxurious and well-enough insulated/isolated it is as heavenly as one at the end of the world! Not, alas, in Albufeira.

    But you should visit one day when you are feeling strong, and write about it!


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