Missing Portugal…

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I woke up missing Portugal today.

It didn’t help that when my wife opened the blind this morning it didn’t really get any lighter in the room! After a weekend of weather that was sunny enough for sunburn, today we have wind whistling through the house, and a sky so grey it looks like a melancholy tribute to Monday mornings…

It’s funny how things work out, because we had a superb weekend. We had some friends come down and spent lots of time in the sun – on the beach, at home, and in several pub gardens! It really was idyllic, and weekends like this make us very pleased that we chose this place to live.

A beautiful British pub garden
A beautiful British pub garden

So it’s funny that I feel wistful for Portugal on today of all days. However, I think I may have discovered why it works like this, thanks to a very astute forum comment from someone going by the name of “GeniB,” which I will now paraphrase (with permission).

She speaks of a warning from her brother before she first set out to move countries; He said that she was about to become a “third country person.” The meaning of which wasn’t clear to her at the time.

She understands it now, and I do too. The “third country” is a fictional place, created in your mind, that encompasses the best parts of the countries you have lived in. It’s where “home” would be in an ideal world.

For me, it would be the England we’ve just spent the weekend enjoying, with our good friends and our children, but with a week of solid sunny weather now on the cards to make Monday a little more cheerful. Obviously there would be a pool outside the window (and my electric moped). My “third country” would still have London an hour away by train, but also be walking distance from the kind of beaches I now have to fly to.

Weather in Portugal: Impossible not to Miss
Weather in Portugal: Impossible not to Miss

The supermarket in my “third country” would be AWESOME – because it would sell British sausage rolls and jam doughnuts, but also a huge selection of Portuguese wine at 3 Euros or less. And every time you went to it you’d bump into someone you knew, because both your English and Portuguese friends would shop there. Shoppers would shop at Portuguese pace, but the checkout folks would work at English pace 😉

Anyway, that’s enough daydreaming, because sadly my “third country” only exists in my head. Ultimately you have to choose one of the other, at least until you retire! I wouldn’t want to swap back to Portugal permanently, because overall I’m happier here in the UK. But I’d do anything to be able to teleport there for a day or two each week. In the absence of a teleporter, I think it might be time to book some flights for a quick trip back!

Eating tapas in England
Eating tapas in England

What would YOUR “third country” be like? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. We were in the Algarve from the 7th to the 14th of May. It was hot! We hired a villa at the northern extremity of Vilamoura, which meant we could access the Portuguese cuisine restaurants on the N125. Golf seems to be the name of the game in Vilamoura, and the centre of town seems to offer international cuisine, which is not what we go to Portugal for.
    Favourite restaurant, A Pipa, authentic, inexpensive and hugely enjoyable.

  2. Hi Dave,

    I must confess I’m not a fan of Vilamoura. It was a place for a once a year visit when we lived close by, and that was enough 😉 Glad you found authentic nearby though.

    I’m going back for a week next week, can’t wait!

    Best wishes,


  3. Thank you for sharing GeniB’s description of that third country mindset. Debra and I call it vacation brain when we visit a place and picture ourselves living there. We have all the positives in our minds and rarely any negatives. We’ve experienced it over and over in places that have absolutely no relation to each other whatsoever. Galapagos Islands versus Alfalma District in Lisbon, and so on. But, we manage to picture ourselves packing it in and moving there nonetheless. We have learned/are learning that embracing where you are rather than longing for something that really doesn’t exist is better for the soul. Now…if I can just apply that knowledge to my work life and stop thinking all would be fixed if I could just retired I would be a happy camper indeed.

    Thanks again for continuing your regular posts despite returning to the UK. Still an enjoyable read.

    Cheers, Grant

  4. I am so pleased to have found your web site — and in particular (so far) this article. GeniB has hit the nail right on the head and perfectly describes a sensation I have been living with for the last 40 or so years since I moved to Venice in Italy. Basically the grass always seems greener in once place or the other — and I must have bored the pants off innumerable friends on both sides of Europe with my harping after what I have left behind at various stages of my expat existence.

    My husband and I are just about to embark on a new, albeit temporary — move to Portugal, so I assume I will soon be adding another couple of countries to my list, or maybe just a much more complex ‘third’ country. I look forward to the discovery!

    Thanks again for such an inspiring blog

  5. Hi Janys – good luck with your next move!

    Best wishes,


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