Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A passion for cartoons and wasabi crackers

I love cartoons and have an enormous respect for cartoonists.  In a few scribbles of the pen and even fewer words, he/she manages to put something on paper that can either make me laugh out loud, cry with laughter or snort-laugh.

I recently discovered I also love wasabi crackers after my curiosity led me to buying some from a local shop to try out.  One taste and one whole packet later, I was hooked.

Yesterday, I linked my two passions together: nibbling on some wasabi crackers whilst looking at a Savage Chicken cartoon:

I rapidly discovered that wasabi crackers and snort-laughing don't go well together.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The beauty of simplicity

Promotional video from Turismo de Portugal:

The things kids say

Another tip would be to check twice to make sure a toddler isn't within ear shot when you start cursing a wardrobe you're trying to put together. My eldest, then aged 2, upon seeing his grandma putting towels away in the newly-mounted wardrobe, proudly said "this is shit, isn't it grandma?!"

Sunday, 2 October 2011

A lovely piece - sweet video and filmed in Portugal :)

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Mack the Knife

Old enough to remember 'Mack the Knife'? Ever wondered what the lyrics meant? Pearl Bailey 'splains:


Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Lisbon tram

Every now and then, google arranges their logo into a design to commemorate a milestone or anniversary in Portugal.  Today's celebrates the 110th anniversary of the Lisbon tram - it's a rather charming design, don't you think?

Monday, 8 August 2011

On shopping anxiety

I’m not really a shopper or very good at seeking out bargains but I do love shopping trips with a friend.  Or my aunt, her friend and my friend.  These trips are fun because I’m not really looking for anything specific and not too bothered if I don’t go home with nothing more than a hug at the end of the day.

However, I loathe supermarket shopping and put it off as much as possible.  This usually means by the time I do go, I need two or three trolleys to cope with all the stuff I need to re-stock my completely bare kitchen cupboards and at least a couple of people to help wheel them back to the car.
I notice the dismayed face of anyone who has the misfortune to end up behind us at the checkout.  Then, in the car park, folks in their cars who are desperately looking for a space, think twice before waiting for us to unload the three trolleys of shopping into the boot and saunter on with a look of ‘I didn’t want to park there anyway’.  I mouth to them ‘don’t have kids or this will be you’ sort of thing.

I’ve done the supermarket shopping online and had it delivered.  This works quite well, of course, and saves time.  Sort of.  I find it challenging because I dither over quantities and whether I’m really ordering the right product and it ends up taking a lot longer than actually going to the supermarket and shop live and in person.

Another quandary I find myself in when I shop online is I’m always sure I’ve forgotten something.  I don’t worry about this when I’m physically in the supermarket as I go around spotting items that I’m sure we need and promptly stock up.  The truth is that when I get home I find we are already well stocked and that is the reason the item wasn’t on the list.  Instead, I’ve completely overlooked a very important item which had its rightful place on the list and this will then warrant a trip to the local shop to stock up.  I should probably just stick to shopping there on a daily basis.  It would relieve me of my shopping anxiety at least and the shopkeeper would be more than happy to see a boost in his profits I’m sure.

Once the ‘in person’ shopping at the supermarket or the online version is over I feel a huge sense of relief.  Until I see the kitchen and hall floor covered in carrier bags and boxes.  Groan!  Now I have to put it all away.  This chore seems to be beyond any other member of the family.  They know exactly which cupboard to go to when they need to help themselves to the biscuits, coffee, tea, sugar, breakfast cereal, baked beans, tinned tuna… but somehow their memory fails when it comes to just putting anything back let alone remember where to store away the shopping.  On the odd occasion when, for one reason or another I don’t do it, the shopping stays in the bags on the floor for days.  Apparently, the family just loves to rummage through the bags looking for whatever rather than open a cupboard door.  

So why am I rambling on about this?  Well, much to my surprise, my hub said we should buy a barcode scanner and every time we took something out of the cupboard, we could scan it.  When we needed to go shopping, all we had to do was download the list on to the computer and print it out.  For a moment, I thought it was a brilliant idea.  However, I seriously doubt any of us would remember to use it, especially the kids, so I’d be back to square one.  Well I would be a proud owner of a barcode scanner sitting in a cupboard alongside the tuna.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Introducing Daisy

We'd just finished dinner and one of my daughter walked out into the garden.  She spotted what she thought was a rat disappearing around the corner of the house and came rushing inside.  It was decided it couldn't possibly be a rat, but nobody really wanted to go and find out.  Eventually, an investigation was gingerly undertaken and what we found was a tiny weeny puppy.

We were puzzled as to how it could have possibly managed to climb the step at the gate and went to check.  On the floor, just inside the gate was an open plastic bag with rice and chicken in it.  The puppy had been pushed through the bars and the food left as an incentive not to leave. 

Hub was adamant we weren't going to keep another dog - we already had two - so it was decided that next morning I'd let everyone know we had a puppy that needed a good home.

The next morning, after I get the kids ready for school, I tell them to keep an eye on the puppy (Nina, one of the other dogs wasn't too happy about having it around) whilst I got ready.  A moment later I hear them trying to decide on a name.  They agreed on the name Daisy.

That was six years ago.  Needless to say, we never did find a home for her and she has been here ever since.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Memorial Service in Oslo

I happened to turn the news on just as the live broadcast was being emitted.  The Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg's tribute was very emotional.
"Today it is time for sorrow. We shall allow ourselves to stop, and honour the dead. Mourn for those who are no more. Ninety-two human lives are lost. Several are still missing. Each and everyone of those is a tragedy. Together, they make a national tragedy.
I'm proud to live in a country that has managed to stand together in the face of tragedy. I am impressed over how much dignity, care and strength we have. We're a little country but a proud people. We are shaken but we will not give up our values. Our response is more freedom, more democracy but not naivety.
Stoltenberg said the families of those who were killed had the sympathy of the entire country. He also passed on the condolences of world leaders including Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and David Cameron.
He also mentioned some of those whom he knew who were killed in the shooting on Utøya island."


Saturday, 23 July 2011

Solidarity worldwide in times of tragedy

I lived in the UK during the IRA attacks. The psychological effects of that time have remained; they are deep rooted and always take me by surprise everytime I hear news about bomb attacks. Prayers of courage and peace to those hurt and to the families of those who perished in Norway.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Google celebrates Amalia Rodrigues's birthday

It's said either you like fado or you hate it.  I love it - especially if it is sung by Amália.

This takes me beyond words : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnr9I5F23Gc

A tavern in Alcobaça

After a long visit to the monastery in Alcobaça recently, we decided we needed something to eat and drink.  Right in front, on the other side of the square, I spotted a place that caught my attention and peeked inside.  It looked traditional and the walls were lined with posters and photos.  I walked in saying to hub 'this looks perfect'.  A young woman appeared and gave us rather a strange look when we asked if they were still serving lunches (it was well gone three in the afternoon but a large breakfast had kept us going for hours) and called the waiter.  We were shown to a table in the back, away from the front part of the tavern where folks were getting their coffee or cold beer fix and the television was showing the live broadcast of the religious ceremonies in Fatima.

He seemed less surprised we wanted lunch and said that he could rustle up a large salad of black-eyed peas, tuna and egg for each of us; hub and I thought that would be great washed down with a couple of' imperiais' (cold beer from the pump).  Whilst we waited, I got the camera out.

I made some sort of remark to hub about the amount of posters of horse fairs and that the decor in general created a great atmosphere.  He wondered if I knew what the name of the tavern meant. I said I didn't have a clue.  He informed me the name meant 'the castrator'.  Ah!  I wondered at his hesitation when I waltzed in - if I'd ever guessed at the name, perhaps I wouldn't have walked through the door.

Really, I'm glad we did venture in - service was great, the food and beer just what we needed.  And it's a family run business:

So if you ever visit the monastery in Alcobaça on a hot day, stop off at 'O Capador' for food and an 'imperial'. We highly recommend it.

The grocery store

If you live near or are ever  passing through Sintra take a detour to the store where I buy my Pukka teas (plus Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Jules Destrooper biscuits and all sorts of goodies) to replenish your senses and soul.  Here's a blog with great pics and write up (all in Portuguese though): http://adegadosleigos.blogspot.com/2011/02/mercearia-da-aldeia.html  Note the great wine section.  The photos make it all seem a lot larger, but browsing the aisles and shelves will soon make you forget the size.  Plus being a family-run business with friendly staff, you are always greeted with a smile and a welcome.

Oh and here's the address with a map courtesy of portugalio: http://www.portugalio.com/mercearia-aldeia/

Talking of tea...

... PG Tips commercial:

Makes me larff everytime :))

Tea, please!

I didn't used to like tea very much when I was younger.  I was around 10 or eleven when I discovered if I didn't put sugar in it, I liked it a lot more.  That's when my love/hate relationship began with sugar, but that's another story.  This one is about tea - all kinds of tea.

I was 18 when I won a competition in a magazine that was really a promotional thing for PG Tips - a free holiday to Sri Lanka and India.  We were given private visits to tea auctions, tea plantations and also tea-tasting.  The tea was fragant and delicious and that's when my love affair with it began.  I drink a lot of tea - black, green, white and (almost) every herbal tea that has ever been concocted.  For me, there's nothing like a freshly brewed jug of kukicha tea - or used to be.

I recently discovered the Pukka herbal range.  As luck would have it, I can obtain it in two local places (although I'd happily travel north, south, east and west to get my fix); one of them is the Mercearia da Aldeia in Janas, which just so happens to be my favourite grocery store too.  This week I spotted a new tea which has now become number one on my list:  licorice and cinnamon - delicious!

Batalha Monastery

This monastery is magnificent, with its high-vaulted ceilings and stain glass windows which, when visited at the right time of the day, have the sun pouring through spreading colour over the walls and floor, then there are the cloisters, shadowy and cool, and in the centre, the tombs ofDom João I and his wife, Queen Philippa of Lancaster.  Interested to know more?  Here is a good place to start (scroll page down to read fuller description: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/264 

And here's a taste of what to expect:

Meet my buddha

I paid a recent trip to the local garden centre hoping to find some more plants to add to those already adorning the sun room and came away with a statue of buddha.  It was sitting on a shelf, right at eye level as I walked in the door and it was love at first sight.  I already have one small buddha - to use as a support for incense and a gift from my daughter - but this one caught my attention because I'd never seen one quite like it.  The tilt of the head and the position of the hands gives it a look of sweet benevolence and I knew I wouldn't be able to leave the centre without it. 

Monday, 18 July 2011

Rubem Alves (em Português e/and in English)

"Hoje não há razões para otimismo. Hoje só é possível ter esperança. Esperança é o oposto do otimismo. Otimismo é quando, sendo primavera do lado de fora, nasce a primavera do lado de dentro. Esperança é quando, sendo seca absoluta do lado de fora, continuam as fontes a borbulhar dentro do coração. Otimismo é alegria "por causa de": coisa humana, natural. Esperança é alegria "a despeito de": coisa divina. O otimismo tem suas raízes no tempo. A esperança tem suas raízes na eternidade. O otimismo se alimenta de grandes coisas. Sem elas, ele morre. A esperança se alimenta de pequenas coisas. Nelas ela floresce. Basta-lhe um morango à beira do abismo. Hoje, pode ser tudo o que temos: morangos à beira do abismo, alegria sem razões. A possibilidade da esperança ..."

(Rubem Alves, Concerto para Corpo e Alma.)

“Today there are no reasons for optimism. Today it is only possible to have hope. Hope is opposed to optimism. Optimism exists when it is spring outside and then it is spring inside. Hope exists when there is drought outside and still there are fountains of water bubbling in the heart. Optimism is joy ‘because of’ something human, something natural. Hope is joy ‘in spite of’; it is a divine thing. Optimism is having roots in time. Hope is having roots in eternity. The optimism is fed by big things. Without them, optimism dies. Hope is fed by small things. Hope blooms in small things. It is enough to be a strawberry at the edge of the abyss. Today, it could be all that we have: strawberries at the edge of the abyss, joy without reason.  The possibility of hope …”


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Plans for the day: a shopping trip to El Corte Inglês

Today, I have the privilege of shopping with my aunt, her friend and my friend.  They are known as serious shoppers and can sniff out a bargain at 10 yards.  On the other hand, I have no talent for shopping.   My hub is not looking forward to the prospect of my trip - my aunt has been known to buy 8 pairs of shoes in 45 mins - whilst I'm hoping some of their talent will rub off on me.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A green experience

I just had my first green smoothie.  Made by me.  I've lost count of the number times I've been told how health-giving they are, the numerous recipes I've been offered, the opinions about how tasty they can be... I've always shuddered at the thought of drinking anything that had raw cabbage or spinach or chard or celery mixed with fruit.  And I love veggies.

Yesterday, I came across yet another article about a woman who credits the change in diet she embarked upon as being the major contributor for her being an almost 10 year cancer survivor.  She gave an example of her daily menu which included a green smoothie as part of her breakfast.  I groaned.  Not again.

This morning, whilst at the organic farm, a large glass of green stuff was offered to me.  It was about two inches from my face and the offerer was telling me how delicious it was.  ‘Orlando made it’ she said.  Orlando is 2 metres tall (he should be in the guiness book of records) and one of the nicest young men I’ve ever met.  I couldn’t refuse.  Then a waft of the ingredients reached my nose.  Boy, did it smell good or what?  One swallow later, I was stunned.  This stuff was delicious.

What was in it?  Chard (not my favourite veggie), banana (not my favourite fruit), kiwi, apple and mint.  Plus a bit of water.  I’m still stunned anything could taste so good and not be chocolate.  Or ice cream.

My attempt isn’t anywhere near as tasty, but at least I’ll never grimace again when someone mentions the words  ‘green smoothie’.