trees and stones

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What a breath of fresh air, literally, it is to get out of the city and head to the mountain! We left, with a bag packed with snacks and not much of a plan, only to head to the woods. We all miss it, not just me.

Ever since we moved to Lisbon, I want to move out, and I think, we all do. In fact the only reason we decided to rent this flat is my lack of driving license, which is frustrating me a lot! I did try, but failed my test and with a few unfortunate events, couldn’t set the exam again, and now I must start all over again in Portugal…

I have been wanting to write about Lisbon, but it’s hard to talk about it “publicly”, mainly because it hasn’t been a very positive experience. It’s not been really that bad, but  when your heart is not in it and what you want is a another kind of life, it just gets a bit difficult, especially as our days would look a bit different if only I had passed that bloody driving test!

The first month was very good, we had friends and family visiting and we had just moved; then Paul started work, and things went bad and some days I feel quite sad for being “stuck” in the city, with not even a garden to get my hands dirty… other days we really enjoy! Making new friends, finding the wilder spaces in a not so wild city, making use of the culture available and getting out as much as possible. There has been plenty of hot beach days too, which is very good indeed!

Back to today, we picked wild carrot (I hope Cat was with us so that she could tell us for sure), as it’s for dyeing I’m not terribly bothered about it’s identification, but it would be nice to know! I’ve been seeing this plant a lot when we go out of the city and was glad to gather some today. Also spotted the first Saint Jonh’s wort since leaving Lousã. The picture is not properly focused, but the battery of my camera died after this one taking this photo, but I wanted to document it anyway. Unfortunately we didn’t gather any, not even for my daughter’s “bouquet”  as there was only one plant, I will keep my eyes peeled for more.

 

Orange trees

spring (3)Before I took this picture, I was made to stop by the smell of springtime of my childhood! I grew up in the Algarve, in a house surrounded by orange trees. As you probably can imagine the smell of a flowering orange tree is quite intense, even if it’s only a few trees in the center of a big city! I could smelled them before I realized what kind of tree I was passing by.

How does one explains the smell of a flowering orange tree, or the feeling of a warm summer night looking at the stars? On these moments I feel the wonder, that after so many years of planning, we’re really living here! Sometimes, well, maybe most of the time, the daily routine takes over and I just go along with it… cooking, doing the laundry, bed times, etc, in many ways these are the same as they were: we still need nourishing food, sleep and washed clothes to wear. But then on these apparently, small moments, it downs on me that we made a dream come true, well, at least part of it, the other part will soon come!

a gathered holiday tree

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On Sunday we went for a walk to gather materials for our Christmas tree. Last year we made it like this and the children wanted to do the same this year, but there are no holes in the house from which to hang it like that. While looking at a craft book we came across the idea of a pyramid made with sticks for a table center piece, and we all agreed if we made it bigger it would make a great holiday tree.To me It’s a beautiful tradition we are creating, the making of our tree, and it warms my heart to know that, they too, prefer to make one than to buy.

The tree itself is made with fallen sticks, mainly of acacia (there are loads of acacias here, it’s nearly or maybe worse than eucalyptus), and then we picked a few other bits to wind around the main sticks. It has ivy, maple, pine, cypress, more acacia and other bits that I can’t identify. I really like that is made from a variety of plants around us rather than just one specie.

We also made a new advent calendar. I usually come up with the ideas myself, but this year we all contributed to it. We mixed the papers (except special days like Solstice or Christmas eve), and then hang them up, that way no one knows exactly what the activity for the day is and is a surprise for us all.

these days

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It’s nearly three months since we left Scotland. We had a rough plan for the following months, but things aren’t going accordingly to plan, of course they aren’t!

So much has happen in this time that it has been hard to sit down, wrap my head around it all and write about it. We planned to do much more travel around Portugal, we planned to live in a 5 mt tent (with a wood-stove) for a few months, build an outdoor kitchen and a compost toilet, meanwhile we would research and even maybe start making a living with a food trailer. Instead, we’re living in a wee rented house, we’ve bought a car and have a full time job.Ah!

To write it like that makes it all sound so simple… But it doesn’t describe the help we’ve had from new friends and strangers, the head banging against Portuguese bureaucracy, the despair of being stolen money and our only working bank card and to have a broken car all in the same weekend, plus other things that I won’t bore you with… So even if things aren’t going the way we planned, life is good. The way I see it, is that this situation is a stepping stone, ever so close to that vision we have to the way we want to live. Is a slow crossing to get there, but mostly I’m ok with that.

This time spent so close as a family, has also been very good to learn a lot about ourselves, what we value as a whole and as individuals, and I believe these lessons will inform the kind of life we’ll create in the next few months and live in the next few years.

P.S.: For our friends and family in Scotland, YOU haven’t been forgotten! I think of you everyday and we often talk about all the loved ones we miss so very much!

P.S.S.: I feel that some of you might want to know if I’m still complaining about the cold.. and the short answer is sometimes! I know… But nights here can be very cold, especially in this old wee house. During the day is warmer outside, as you might guess, is where we spend most of the day.

I don’t know when or what got me interested in “slow fashion”, ten years ago when I bought my first organic fabrics, the term didn’t even existed, it’s been a gradual process I suppose.

I have fond memories of the clothes my mum sewed for me, from childhood to my twenties; in fact I just remembered that my mum made the two pairs of work trousers I brought when I first arrived in Scotland, eleven years ago . In my teens i attempted to make clothes for myself, sometimes with my mum’s help, sometimes not,  but sewing, crochet and knitting is something that has always been present in my life.

I also asked my mum to teach me to knit, she only knows the Portuguese way, and if you know anything at all about that method is that purling is easier than the knit stitch, so I only learnt that. I made a big huge red scarf and that was that. I was always much more confident with crochet but I prefer the knitting fabric, besides Portugal is quite a hot country, so making clothes from wool it was something I started only eight years ago When I became pregnant with my first born. I must have commented to my partner that I must make things for our baby and one day he brought home a present for me, it was a book with baby patterns! Since for him knitting and crochet must look like the same thing, the book he bought was knitting, not crochet, I decided then that this time I would learn to knit, and so i did! At the time I didn’t know about the different styles of knitting so I struggled a little with the instructions, and somehow found a way to do knit stitch with a style I now believe to be “flicking” and to purl the Portuguese way, nowadays I still knit this way, but I have also learnt to knit and purl in both styles!

Of course that at the same time my mum was making me clothes I also bought a few things in the shops, but I hate shopping,  even more than my mums sessions in trying clothes, she is a perfectionist, so she would measure things over and over, and to me at the time it seemed such a burden, now however I understand how much time that must have saved her! I asked my mum to make me clothes because I valued the handmade items and because she could do exactly the styles I wanted, not because of a conscious decision against the social implications of the “fast” fashion.

Today my wardrobe consists mostly of clothes that I have bought at the charity shops, with which I have a love/hate relationships, something for another post perhaps. When I can’t find what I need at the charity shops, or don’t have time to wait, I try to find items on sale from brands that I want to buy from, like People Tree and of course, some old clothes too. I’m afraid that I don’t have as many handmade items as I used to…

As a full time home-educating mother of children aged seven and under, on a low income and saving for a big dream, what I find the most difficult is to find a balance on the children’s clothes. When they were little it was easy to find clothes in the charity shops, or hand me downs, but as they grow older it’s increasingly difficult to buy them clothes in second hand, and so the dilemma starts.

On one hand we are saving for a big life change, on the other there are all the environment and social costs that comes with cheap clothes. Besides there is another thing to balance, between the never ending to do list , the stress and pressure that comes with trying to make clothes for the children, they grow so fast that is hard to keep up; When I think that I have nailed it, they grow a bit more, clothes no longer fit, and so it starts all over again… I would like to take time this month to give more thought to this issues. So probably this month I will be focusing more on their wardrobe rather than mine, I might start by posting a realistic (not!) to do list, since the last time I did that, it helped a lot!

Why I want to move to Portugal / Porquê que eu quero ir para Portugal

Isle of Bute

Em Português, mais abaixo

English

Next year, we plan to move to Portugal. I wasn’t going to write on the blog about something that will not happen for a long time, but the other day I read a post that describe pretty much the lifestyle I’ve been yearning for a long time. That,  and a discussion I had with my dad, encouraged me to write this post now, besides, why not?

While this is a joint decision, I will talk about my reasons. Paul has his, of course, but I won’t speak for him.

We have been planning this move for many years, in fact, since we met ten years ago, we’ve talked about going to Portugal; But first we had to learn how to save…

I want to live closer to nature, with nature,  to use the sun as a source of energy, to plant and raise our food and live simply. You see, for all this years that we’ve been simplifying I have come to realize that I’m happier with less, not more.

Sure that is possible in the UK, many people do it. But for me, I would like to do all those things without feeling cold most of the time. I miss the warmth, I miss sitting outside, at night,  listening to the sounds of the night and looking at the stars (those are some of my favorite memories). I want my children to eat tomatoes, melons and watermelons off the plant, the way I did as a child. To pick lemons , oranges, figs and peaches off the tree, the way I did as a child. I want them to be free of time and space to explore and play. Again, that would be possible in the UK, but land is expensive and it would mean a big mortgage and many hours at work, and that is not what we want.

But my reasons go further and deeper than lifestyle and climate… I want to share with my children and my spouse, the culture I grew up with. I want them to experience all those things that do not fit in a two or three week holiday, all those intangible but so important things about a culture that you only know when you stay in a place long enough.

People tell us that to go in holiday is not the same as living in the country… We  know that! I also know that it’s very easy to romanticize when one is far away. But here’s the thing, we don’t want to regret, in a few years, not trying. We don’t want to choose the easiest option without trying for what we think it might be better for us as a family. And we specially want to experience it for ourselves. We want to be the ones to decide, by experience, not by what other people tell us.

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No próximo ano vamos para Portugal. Eu não estava a pensar em escrever no blog, sobre uma coisa que ainda demora muito tempo para acontecer, mas no outro dia li um post que basicamente descrevia o estilo de vida que eu anseio há tanto tempo. Juntamente com uma conversa que eu tive com o meu pai, estimulou-me a escrever isto agora, e porque não?

Esta é uma decisão que foi tomada pela nossa familia. Eu tenho as minhas razões e o Paul tem as deles; no entanto eu não vou falar por ele, por isso só vou escrevo sobre as minhas.

Andamos a planear isto há muitos anos, aliàs, quando nos conheçemos, há dez anos atrás, já falavamos em ir para Portugal; mas primeiro tivemos que aprender a poupar…

Eu quero viver mais perto da natureza, com a natureza, sentir o seu pulsar, usar o sol  como fonte de energia, plantar e criar a nossa comida e viver uma vida simples. É que durantes estes anos todos que andamos a simplificar a nossa vida e aquilo que escolhemos ter, eu apercebi-me que eu sou mais feliz quando tenho menos, não mais.

É claro que isto também seria possivel no Reino Unido, há muitas pessoas a faze-lo, mas para mim, eu preferia viver sem sentir frio a maior parte do tempo. Eu sinto falta do calor, de me sentar lá fora à noite a ouvir os sons da noite e a olhar para as estrelas (essas são umas das minhas recordações favoritas). Eu quero que as minhas crianças comam tomates, melões e melancias da planta, como eu fiz em criança. Apanhar limões, laranjas, figos e pêssegos das árvores, como eu fiz em criança. Eu quero que eles sejam livres de tempo e espaço para esplorarem e brincarem. Mais uma vez, isto também seria possivel no Reino Unido, mas aqui a terra é cara e teriamos que ter um empréstimo e trabalhar fora de casa muitas horas, e isso não é o que nós queremos.

Mas as minhas razões sãomais profundas do que o estilo de vida ou o clima… Eu quero partilhar com as minhas crianças e o meu marido, a cultura com que eu cresci. Eu quero que eles sitam e vivam todas as aquelas coisas que não cabem numas férias de duas ou três semanas, todas as aquelas coisas intângiveis mas muito importantes, sobre uma cultura, que só se conhece quando passamos muito tempo num lugar.

As pessoas dizem que ir de férias não é o mesmo que viver no país… Nós sabemos de isso! Também sei que é muito facil romantizar quando estamso longe. Mas eu não quero me arrepender, daqui a uns anos, por não tentar. Nós não queremos escolher a opção mais facil sem pelo menos tentar-mos criar algo que nós pensamos ser melhor para a nossa familia. E especialmente queremos ser nós a decidir por nõs mesmos, não pelo que nos dizem, mas pela nossa experiência.

this week

I think I might have had a wee fairy behind me or something like that because I found two amazing things in the charity shops. A beautiful wire basket and a handmade woolly jumper. I’is a little too big, but super warm and comfortable. It’s handmade and wool… I’m not complaining at all!

from the charity shop

from the charity shop

Two books I loved to read this week. Veggiestan is from the library, do you see all those yellow papers? At some point I considered to stop bookmarking because I was sticking the papers on every other page, but I kept going and run out of paper half way! The other book I bought it off a friend.

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book

And a little weaving project with a willow frame. Is not finished yet, I think.

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