Charting a couple's move from London to Portugal, tales, adventures and moving advice

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The Soundtrack to our Move to Portugal 0

Posted on January 24, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

I have something a little different for you today – a musical post.

For a while now, I’ve been intending to put together a list of the songs we’ve come to associate with our move to Portugal.

Most of the time, our home runs on music. Sometimes many days can pass without the TV being switched on, but the iPod dock is in constant use.

Some of this music isn’t necessarily to our normal taste, but certain songs have become intrinsically linked with our move to Portugal – to leave them out would mean failing to tell the whole story – so don’t judge us on all of them!

Emma Bunton – “Free Me” (Album)

Yeah, yeah, let’s get all the “Ben loves the Spice Girls” giggling out the way. As my closest friends will know, I’ve always had a soft spot for a little girl power.

All joking aside, if I had to choose one album that makes me think of our early weeks in Portugal, it would be this. It may seem odd that someone who knows about all kinds of obscure house, soul and hip-hop places this in his top ten albums of all time, but it’s true.

It’s a beautiful chunk of Motown-tinged pop that never gets dull. It reminds me of sunny afternoons driving around the Algarve, and long days of cooking in our first house in Tavira, where over a decade of London tension first began to thaw away.

Marvin Gaye – “I wanna be where you are”

OK, I’d better find something a little more highbrow and credible for my next choice, so here we have Marvin Gaye.

This is from a quite obscure B-sides album, and is a simple groove as much as a song – but what a groove it is, with strings and brass that I could, quite literally listen to all day long.

This is my “work done, wine poured, time to peel the prawns” tune. My wife, who doesn’t really do soul music, merely tolerates it.

Odyssey – “Native New Yorker”

My life would be incomplete without this track. I associate it with having visitors staying in Portugal with us and have been surprised by how many friends were already familiar with it.

I also (girly moment) remember shedding a tear upon hearing the line “where did all those yesterdays go” in the hours after my mum had left to return to England after her first Christmas visit to Portugal. Hearing it now, I’m reminded that this time next week I will actually be on my way to New York!

Mambana – “Libre”

I could easily write a separate post listing all the Latin house tunes that I associate with our life in Portugal, but that would bore everyone to death, so I consulted my wife as to which to include.

To me this song is all about driving down the Algarve’s N125 road on the way to a beach, often with a couple of mates in the back of the car. Hearing it now is enough to give me goose bumps in advance of this summer.

Thick Dick – “Insatiable”

This is a house tune that I remember from my clubbing days. A couple of years ago this Balearic-tinged version appeared, complete with its laid-back Spanish guitar sounds.

It’s a track that’s equally as perfect through the headphones by the pool as it is blasting in the car on the way to a night out. It featured heavily in our summer last year. It’s basically summer distilled into five minutes – which is a good thing.

The Milk – “B Roads”

Right, time to man up with something a little more guitar-based. The Milk’s album, “Tales from a Thames Delta” was one of my highlights of last year and our car soundtrack for several months.

It’s a track that tends to come out when we’ve got too much to do and feel a bit up against it: “you gotta live on the run, or you’ll die young” is quite an inspirational message!

Jay-Z and Kayne West – “Clique”

This tune makes me think of my young mates in our local town, and of a few mad nights out. Lou (my wife) loves it too, earning it a place on this list.

Over-the-top swag hip-hop, complete with lots of sweary lyrics. Parental discretion is advised.

Oddisee – “Hustle Off”

Oddisee is a hip-hop artist I discovered last year. His album “People Hear What They See,” was the iTunes hip-hop album of the year for 2012.

This track isn’t actually on the album, it’s more of an obscurity, but the “sometimes you just gotta turn your hustle off” message is very resonant for those of us who’ve decided to slow down our pace of life.

The Nextmen – “Whisper Up”

A list of songs related to our move to Portugal wouldn’t be complete without some poolside reggae. “Whisper Up” is a quirky little number that I doubt many people are familiar with – but it’s instantly appealing and often causes people to ask “what’s this?”

Fierce Collective – “Baker Street”

This is Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” turned into shameless handbag-house. I was never a massive fan of the original (other than always whistling it whilst walking through Baker Street tube station).

This version, however, I discovered during a particularly crappy week of work in London, and it came on my iPod while I was on the Gatwick Express en route back home to Portugal. I’d never previously realised the lyrics were all about swapping city life for something rather more like ours. By the time I pulled into Gatwick train station and reached the “you’re going home” line, I was nearly crying for joy with the certainty that we’d done the right thing by moving to Portugal.

Michel Telo – “Ai Se Eu Te Pego”

You may know this one. It’s a Portuguese (Brazillian) song that has reached number one in 16 European countries. However, it’s not so well known in the UK, where, as recent events prove, they don’t really like joining in with everyone else.

This song reminds me of summer days and nights out, and it always delights me when I hear English expats sing it…in Portuguese.

The Quiet Boys – “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”

I had to include this song. The dilemma was which version, as I seem to uncover a different one every couple of months. Any one of them is perfect for playing quietly in the background whilst floating in the swimming pool (made from a converted irrigation tank) at our family’s place nearby.

I’ve gone for this acid jazz flavoured version, but I apologize to Roy Ayers for not choosing his. I have, however put the Roy Ayers version here as my choice is the one item on this list too obscure to find on YouTube.

Compiling this list of twelve songs has been a really enjoyable (and at times emotional) experience. I have no doubt that over the coming days I’ll think of countless other tunes I should have included. But I still feel that this list provides a good representation of the soundtrack of our life in Portugal. I hope you enjoy it.

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Faro to Manchester 2

Posted on June 28, 2012 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

Just time for a quick update today, as I will soon be heading to Faro airport to catch a plane to Manchester.

I am fortunate enough to be in possession of a ticket to see the first of The Stone Roses’ homecoming gigs tomorrow. After that we are doing a quick “UK tour” to see some family and friends, followed by a few days work in London before heading back to the warmth and relaxation of Portugal next week.

I’m looking forward to this trip rather more than usual as the balance is tipped in the direction of fun for a change! So, on this occasion, I will spare you my whining about having to go to England.

I will just say, however, that I’m not particularly relishing swapping this…..

The Weather in Portugal

…..for this…..

Not the weather in Portugal

But you can’t have everything can you? At least the sun should still be around until we get home.

Until then, if you’re starved of reading-matter about Portugal, I can strongly recommend this mouthwatering guide to Portuguese food and Wine! Back soon!

The Wine and Food Lover’s Guide to Portugal

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X Factor? Get me out of here….. 7

Posted on October 26, 2009 by movingtoportugal
Meravista

It’s been a while since I moaned about London life and seeing as we leave in 9 days (typing that just pushed my heart rate up!) I imagine this will be my last little political rant….

As a TV show, I can’t say I actually have any issue with the concept of “The X Factor,” but the reason it is right up at the top of the list of “things I hate” right now is how it highlights the vacuous way of life everyone seems to be being encouraged to adopt.

Several times per day I am becoming tempted to deactivate my Facebook account as yet another of my friends posts some inane comment about “The  X-Factor.” Visiting the offices of my clients all I am hearing is chatter about “Miss Frank” or “The Twatty Twins.”  As if this wasn’t enough, the tabloid front-pages scream out more “X-Factor” exclusives everywhere you go.

All of this is producing within me emotions from mild depression to actual FURY! As well as religiously watching this drivel, people are voting on it, talking about it, twittering about it, reading about it and texting about it. Some of these people are my friends, and are, at least in some cases, quite level headed, interesting people. Are the government in some way complicit in allowing this nonsense to slowly rot away our collective intelligence?!

Some really significant stuff goes on in the world. The country is at war in a couple of places, the politicians and the bankers are all stealing our money, and the British National Party are on “Question Time,” yet nobody talks about any of that. People prefer to be anaesthetised for weeks at a time by the antics of wannabe fast-track celebrities, while Cheryl Cole and some others decide which one of the contenders gets to record a shit ballad for Christmas number one, thus financing Simon Cowell’s next party, and next teeth.

When people seem to be putting more thought into who to vote for in The X Factor than who to vote for to run the country, something has surely gone horribly wrong? I am really struggling with the fact that this isn’t glaringly obvious to more people around me.  The UK seem to have adopted apathy as the key lifestyle choice and “not my problem” as the collective mantra. Unless people begin to wake up and take more interest in the society around them than the sad little lives of Jordan and Kerry Katona, I really to fear for the future of our culture.

Moving back to the key topic of moving to Portugal, I am sad to say that, yes, they do have X Factor in Portugal (in fact across most of Europe and even “XSeer Al Najah” throughout the Arab world, according to Wikipedia.) The silver-lining in that particular cloud though, is that I won’t understand a word when people are talking about it. The same will go for politics – I am going to go out of my way to not know about it – that way I may not feel so cross all the time!

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"No matter how hard, the task may seem, Don't give up our plans, Don't give up our dreams"* 10

Posted on October 04, 2009 by movingtoportugal
Meravista

I really hope it all works out for us is Portugal – because I really don’t want to move house and country ever again! In past posts, I have mentioned it is all a bit of a roller-coaster ride – well, now, every week that happens makes it seem like the previous one was a walk in the park by comparison! It doesn’t help that I have bitten off a whole load of work just before moving – absolute lunacy in terms of stress-levels, but (I hope) worth it as the money will bring us some additional financial security when we get there.

The rollercoaster is still is motion, just faster and crazier than before. It seems as if we can experience euphoria, despair and panic, each several times in the same day! At the same time though, when we do hit a moment of calm clarity I can look back over my multicoloured diary in Microsoft Outlook and see how much IS getting done. So, here are some of the things that are now done, that weren’t done this time last week:

The beach at Isla De Tavira - not long now

The beach at Isla De Tavira - not long now

1. My wife and I now both have proper Portugese debit cards for accounts with some money in them!

2. We both have new passports that don’t expire for 10 years!

3. One-way flights are booked, as is car hire for the first few weeks of our arrival, and a hotel for the night before our early Easyjet flight.

4. Removal booking should be confirmed tomorrow.

5. Cupboards, drawers, wardrobes, stacks of trainers etc. are being reduced / recycled / offloaded as appropriate.

6. It looks like we have a buyer for our beloved car – it will be sad to see it go but the steering wheel is on the wrong side!

7. The first of the boxes are ACTUALLY PACKED.

It may not sound like a huge amount but we have fitted it in around 12 hour working days! This morning, at least, I feel like we are getting somewhere – that doesn’t mean I won’t have had another “mini-meltdown” by the end of the day though (probably when I see the Ebay pile in the dining room which is getting bigger rather than smaller!)

* The soundtrack to our rollercoaster ride has been a fantastic Michael Jackson tribute mix by a DJ called Chris Read – a free download I found some time ago which hasn’t left my Ipod since – for anyone interested it can be found here – http://www.musicofsubstance.com/html/mp3-downloads.htm The post title is from “We’re almost there” by Michael Jackson – RIP.

32 days to go :)

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"When you get to the bottom you go back to the top" 4

Posted on September 03, 2009 by movingtoportugal
Meravista

Music fans will recognise the title as the song “Helter Skelter,” by the Beatles – covered by U2 and, according to Google, Pat Benatar – never heard that version!

RollercoasterAnyway, it nicely sums up the rollercoaster ride this moving to Portugal business is proving to be!

It is strange really, because although overall I would say the overall level of stress is what I expected from moving countries, the stress is coming from things I didn’t expect, and then, some of the things I expected to be a nightmare have actually been really straightforward….some examples:

EASIER THAN EXPECTED:

1. Opening a Portugese bank account

After finding out I could go along to the London branch I visited the very nice people at Banco Espirito Santo. Wait in reception, go to private room, provide paperwork, give them cheque. All done – I didn’t have to speak to anyone in a call-center in Delhi, provide my credit history, last 6 years of utility bills or my shoe size. My first experience of the Portugese banking system was very positive – maybe because you pay for personal banking in Portugal, but I think that this service is well worth 4 euros per month!

2. Renting a house

Admittedly we haven’t got the keys yet as we don’t go until November, but so far the dealings with the rental agency have been friendly and far more straightforward than doing the same in the UK. A pleasant surprise complimented with the constant pleasure of knowing we will be living in a much nicer house than we do now for a fraction of the money!

3. Packing up to go

This is supposed to be the most stressful part, but a determined effort with Ebay and the realisation that once you actually get stuck into it, it doesn’t really take that long to sort out even the largest of cupboards, has meant this has ended up being quite theraputic and enjoyable.

HARDER THAN EXPECTED:

1. The Emotions

This week marked the “start of Autumn,” and I was fully expecting this to be the time when I took the attitude of “HA! Summer’s over but I’m moving to the sunshine in two months, so up yours London!”

It actually left me with a real feeling of melancholy. It hasn’t been a bad Summer overall by London standards (despite moaning about the weather in past posts!) We have had some great times with great friends, and I guess it’s the first time we have allowed ourselves to acknowledge the things we are going to miss.

The same goes for our house – it is expensive and we have awkward neighbours, but we have still enjoyed years of lovely Sunday lunches and other good-times…..and however much you are looking forward to living somewhere else, leaving the place where you carried your wife over the threshold is always going to put a lump in your throat.

Next week the schools go back, everywhere we travel in London will take 3 times longer – I think that coupled with the turning of the weather will be the point when I snap out of all of this reminiscing nonsense!

2. Business

Everything in business world moves fast in London – starting my business was quick and easy as well. Now it comes to handing it over, everything moves a lot slower than you want it to, and loads of other things you need to do – i.e. setting dates for flights, removals etc. gets stuck behind other things on the plan while you are waiting on other people. I am not a hugely patient person (according to my wife!) and I am spending vast amounts of time pacing and waiting currently. Not good!

3. The “Longing”

Not quite the same as being there

Not quite the same as being there

I have been reading guidebooks, moving-abroad books, magazines, forums and websites for 3 years now in anticipation of our move to Portugal. Now I just really REALLY want to get there. As I mentioned above, patience isn’t one of my main skills, but I really feel I have waited long enough now! My mother told me not to wish my life away today, which is always sound advice, but a combination of evenings spent getting excited by YouTube videos of the Algarve followed by mornings of realising I still have to go into London and live my current life is wearing me down!

So that’s where we are. Eight weeks to go <drums fingers on table.>

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Progress, Ipods and Man-bags 0

Posted on July 21, 2009 by movingtoportugal
Meravista

I am going to try to refrain from bitching about the UK in my blog for a while. Much as I would like to whinge about the 5 hours I spent on delayed London and Surrey overground trains today I am going to refrain. After all, this blog is supposed to be about our move to Portugal. Hopefully, once we get there the blog can be filled with pictures of sunshine and seafood and descriptive “A Year in Provence,” type content.  For now though, it’s all about the practical stuff – much like  life right now!

We have just 102 days to go! Things do seem to be falling into place – I’m sure it won’t all be plain sailing but our planning seems to be paying off. The savings are adding up, loose ends are being tied work/business wise and we are finally starting to see some space in the house – all of the ebaying and carbooting has finally started to show!

My new toy

My new toy

Last weekend was spent tied to the computer as I finally completed my efforts to finish digitising my significant CD collection as they are not coming with us. I can’t imagine throwing them out as my collection has been a labour of love, but they will be staying in storage in the UK. SO, I had to feed them to the computer one-by-one. When I was younger I would have loved this kind of thing, but as I work in IT, it does feel rather like being at work. It is wonderful to have it done though and I have treated myself to a 120gb Ipod Classic to store the lot. I am very much looking forward to hearing how much better my music sounds in the Portugal sunshine (having given up hope of summer returning here in London!)

While on the subject of Ipods – is it just me, or is it quite hard to pull-off dealing with an Ipod, phone and blackberry at the same time whilst travelling on public transport through a city? I seem to be permanently tangling myself up in wires, juggling gadgets and nearly dropping my train ticket at station barriers – add a coffee or sausage roll to the mix and I am truly stuffed and in danger of walking into somebody or (more likely) spilling something on myself. Am I just clumsy? Ipods are marketed as a very cool and trendy gadget but I fear that mine  is making me look rather undignified in public. I also have to permanently carry a “man bag,” as my only alternative is using every pocket of some combat trousers, resulting in them “riding low” and making me look like a slightly plump wannabe rapper.

I intended to go into some detail about our experiences of selling our clutter but I appear, as usual, to have gone off on a tangent, so I shall leave it there for now and save that for another day!

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