The story so far
In May 2014 Husband and I got the process under way of selling a flat in London’s East End and moving to southern Portugal, and I began writing a weekly blog about it. The blog was for friends and family, as well as for anyone who happened upon it – in the remote chance that anybody did. I promised to keep it up for one year. On 20 May 2015 I posted the fifty-second entry, knowing by then that I couldn’t stop writing even if I tried. Now I have a new goal: to cover our first complete year in the Algarve.
Do we regret anything? No. Well, maybe the compost heap, which did turn into a fly-blown monstrosity, as I feared it might, and attracted a rat. A cute pointy-nosed rat with brown beads for eyes, but a rat none the less. The heap was declared closed for business. I only started it because Horse – a lovely white escapee Lusitano who strayed into our valley on at Christmas and stayed for ten days until his owners could get him to go back – left me many ‘gifts’ that I didn’t want to go to waste.
Part of the original dream was for Husband to restore an old Algarvian bread oven. This quickly showed itself to be impractical. We did find an old bread oven, but it wasn’t attached to the right house. We found – eventually – the right house and it did have an outside bread oven, but it was not a romantic, old, much-used structure, nor did it make – with its uneven heat distribution – very good bread. Instead it became clear that today’s artisan bread-maker will fare best using a piece of beautiful modern design: a stone-clad, purpose-built bread oven that runs on electricity and is imported from that country of engineering excellence: Germany. As for me, I continue to work as an editor, with the distance making negligible difference.
Every other part of the dream – the air, the light, the scents, the natural world, the human culture – has come true, even exceeded expectations. The question that most people ask – Why Portugal? – I still cannot precisely answer, however. I can only say that Portugal seemed possible. It felt right. Now that we live here, it still feels right. It is not a case of London bad, Portugal good. It’s just that London was where we wanted to be then, and Portugal is where we want to be now. We are privileged to have been in a position to choose, and for this we are unendingly grateful.