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(Ben) I’ve been a bit up and down over the past few weeks, and sunk into the doldrums at one point, as several readers noticed when I posted this earlier update.
I’m pleased to say I seem to have snapped out of it, so I thought now would be a good time for a truly positive (if perhaps slightly random) post.
So I’ll make no apology for opting for every blogger’s “go to” post when they can’t think of anything else to write about. Here follows a list of ten things I’m loving right now.
- My Boy
Our son Freddie is nearly four months old at the time of writing. Sometimes it feels like it was only yesterday that we were in the hospital for the birth, but yet it simultaneously seems like a lifetime ago.
Regardless, the new addition to our little family brings me joy every single day. He constantly surprises me with new sounds, cute new expressions and new abilities (such as last night’s feat of moving to the opposite end of his cot when we weren’t even aware he could move that far!)
I won’t be a “baby bore,” but if you do want to read more about our early days with Freddie, you can check out my new Nervous New Dad blog.
- Continente’s Self Service Tills
Even though it’s September now, our local Continente supermarket is still a hell-hole, with queues stretching down the aisles and hundreds of people who can’t seem to master the simple process of weighing and labelling their fruit without making a song and dance out of it.
Thankfully, the bank of self service tills makes it possible to bypass the bulk of the hatefulness and get out of there quickly, and for that I must show my gratitude.
- My New Bowl
OK, this is a quirky one. About three years ago I made a tomato salad from a Jamie Oliver recipe in BBC Good Food magazine. In the magazine, the salad was pictured in a beautiful rustic porcelain bowl, and ever since I’ve wanted a bowl like it.
The trouble is, I’m a fussy sod, and I must have critically inspected hundreds of potential bowls in the intervening years, never being satisfied with what I found.
All that changed during a recent trip to Lisbon, where I found the “bowl of my dreams” at the Feira da Ladra market.
The bowl is now in general use, but I insisted that it was used to present a tomato salad first, which we served with rustic local bread, goats cheese and cured ham.
OK, it’s not really autumn yet. The sun’s blazing outside and the temperature will pass 30 degrees by lunchtime—but autumn is a great time in the Algarve. It’s still hot, the sea’s warm, and we get the beaches and restaurants back from the tourists.
Although I’m an IT consultant “by trade,” I seem to find myself doing more and more creative work these days and less and less with computers.
However, the past week has seen me having to work on a few Windows machines, often resulting in swearing and irritation.
It’s for this reason I’m feeling particular affection for Apple right now. Turning back to my MacBook after working with Windows 8 makes me truly glad I made the switch away from Microsoft, and I’m also rather excited about the forthcoming announcement of the iPhone 6.
Once you go Mac, you never go back.
- Portugal’s Re-emergence
Portugal’s been through some really rough times over past years, but now the country seems to be having a run of good news. The bail-out is done and dusted, demand for government bonds is outstripping supply, and unemployment is down.
On a local level, we’re seeing new businesses launching successfully, including a very high end hotel near Tavira and an unusually posh restaurant in Cabanas. There are plenty of people around, and they seem to be finally spending. The estate agents all seem to be finally shifting properties too.
All of this is great news for the community, and the general sense of positivity should breed more opportunities and business ventures. I’ve even got a couple in mind myself!
- Dimitri from Paris
I said this list would be random!
I have to mention Dimitri from Paris, my favourite DJ, who released a superb compilation called “Dimitri from Paris in the House of Disco” back in early June.
Given that I buy new music almost constantly, the fact that it’s still that album playing in the background as I type this post is testament to my appreciation for it. My friends, on the other hand, are quite possibly bored to tears with it!
- The Trews
OK, time to stick my neck out a little, because Russell Brand is the Marmite (love him or hate him) of celebrities. However, watching his “Trews” updates on YouTube has become a daily activity for my wife and I.
Whether or not you agree with his politics, the fact he’s taking his time to explain how the media really works and exposing the lies and hypocrisy “the system” is truly based on is, in my eyes, highly admirable. I’ll leave it there.
- Eating Out
My wife and I have “rediscovered” eating out since we had Freddie, as it often proves easier to drive to a restaurant and dine while he sleeps next to us than it is to fight the supermarket crowds and cook at the end of our working day.
As a result, we’ve found a new appreciation for the variety and quality of restaurants on our doorstep, and been given inspiration for more content over at Food and Wine Portugal.
When I’m having a “low” period, I find it hard to look to the future, so it’s always invigorating to emerge on the other side and realise how bright things really are.
So, I’m concluding my list with “anticipation,” as we have tons of it right now. Next month we move to a new house (more on that soon). We also have several visitors coming from the UK, and (assuming the stars align correctly) these will hopefully include my mother who will finally be able to meet her new grandson.
Going on beyond that we have Freddie’s first Christmas, several interesting new work projects, and a trip to the UK (assuming Freddie’s passport is processed!) It’s all rather good.
I was going to contrast this list with a selection of “things I’m hating” for the sake of balance, but on reflection I’ve decided not to spoil the mood. Have a splendid weekend.
If you want to read more about moving to Portugal, check out our book here:
Readers in the US can use this link to find the book: