Monday, 5 December 2022

Ever decreasing circles

No matter how organised I thought I was, I have been busy rushing around seeing to last-minute things before my trip starts in a couple of day´s time. This means I haven´t really been able to fit in any blogging, nor will I be able to while I am away, unfortunately, so I would like to wish you all a

And a very Happy New Year

See you in 2023!

Photos by Cameron Stewart, Jamie Street, Elisha Terada - Unsplash 

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Nosy, nosy

 I´ve just glanced out of the window as I could hear loud voices down below. There are three police vehicles outside our main entrance and officers with clipboards speaking to residents. I wonder what is going on? No doubt I´ll hear over the grapevine as I am on my way out to the farmer´s market.

Sunday, 27 November 2022


Well, things are gradually getting resolved. When I went downstairs yesterday the fridge was no longer in the hall and the lift door was in place, so I guess that problem was sorted. Best of all, though, I have managed to re-book my flight. I was originally traveling at 1am on the eighth (the cabin crew are striking on the eighth and ninth) but I have succeeded in changing my reservation to 11pm on the seventh, just an hour before the strike begins and only two hours before my original flight, which means all my travel plans and bookings are still ok. Lets hope the strikers don´t change their dates!

Now I have started thinking about packing. My usual modus operandi is to leave an open case out a couple of weeks before my trip and to drop things into it every time I remember something I will need. Then when I finally come to actually pack I just have to weed out the unnecessary items. That works for me, anyway. 

The thing is that I am so used to packing only the most essential and lightest items, to be carried in a rucksack for several weeks while I walk several hundred miles. The accepted wisdom is that you carry no more than 10% of your body seven kilos to include clothes, footwear, rain wear, sleeping bag, toiletries, water, food...every gram counts. Now I can take over thirty kilos in two suitcases and I´m finding it difficult to get my head round it.

 Photo by Arnel Hasanovic - Unsplash

Thursday, 24 November 2022

Not just me

I´m not the only one with problems...I just popped down to pick up a delivery from reception (three kilos of dog food so Toby won´t starve while I´m away!) when I saw a massive fridge/freezer by the lift on the ground floor and several people hovering.

Apparently a resident here bought this large appliance without thinking to check the dimensions to make sure it would fit in the lift. It doesn´t! The solution appears to be to remove the lift door, which will involve calling out the authorized technician and a certain amount of disruption and expense. I´m glad it is not my problem.

After I got back with the dog food I was thinking about this and I wondered whether they have checked to see if the fridge will fit through the apartment door. Imagine if they went to all the trouble to take the lift door off, etc and discover they can´t get it in the apartment. Surely someone has thought of this? 

I´m half-tempted to go down and ask, but don´t want to come across as an interfering busybody. Whatever happens they will have to get it sorted soon, It is late morning here now and mid-afternoon Brazil will be playing it´s first game in the World Cup - at which point the entire country will come to a stop, even Government offices are closing early.


Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Panic stations!

Out of the 365 days there are in a year the cabin staff of the airline with whom I am traveling to Portugal and London have decided to strike for two days, precisely on the days I should be flying in a couple of week´s time. I plan to be on the move during this trip, with various hotels booked and paid for and visits arranged so any delays at the beginning will have a domino effect from first to last. 

This trip has been over four years in the making, what with pandemics and other problems, I just can´t believe this is happening. To make matters worse the airline is of course not answering the phone. Time for deep breaths and prayers...

Sunday, 20 November 2022

The virus strikes again!

My youngest son has just tested positive for Covid...again...he has had it several times now. He has two jobs and both bring him into contact with large numbers of people. Recently he was part of the security detail for the top F1 drivers here. It is worrying but hopefully he will have a mild attack as surely he must have built up some resistance by now.

Thursday, 17 November 2022



I eat this salad for dinner most nights in summer and I have been increasing the number of ingredients, it now consists of:

Cabbage, onion, tomato, cucumber, green pepper, beetroot, radish, carrot and hard-boiled egg for protein, seasoned with lemon juice, salt and extra virgin olive oil. I sometimes use cheese instead of the egg.

By the time I have finished adding everything there is rather a lot of it and it takes half an hour to munch my way through it - but I enjoy every bite.

Monday, 14 November 2022

Masks again

Well, it looks like masks are coming back as Covid numbers start to rise here. The government is recommending the wearing of masks in enclosed public spaces again although it is not mandatory yet and my building is asking people to wear them in lifts and communal areas.

I never really stopped wearing one when out and about, especially on public transport and in the gym, so it won´t make much difference to me. My biggest concern is if this new wave grows to the extent that it affects travel plans - my trip to Portugal and England is in three week's time. Fingers crossed!

 Photo by Mika Baumeister - Unsplash 

Saturday, 12 November 2022

Why not?

Spanish village on sale for €260,000 The new owner would get 44 homes, a hotel, a church, a school, a swimming pool and even a barracks.

The above news item caught my eye. It is similar to other articles where, in Italy for example, the government is trying to repopulate villages by offering houses for sale for a few euros.
I would have thought it a good idea to use these homes as accommodation for the many refugees flooding across the borders. They would have somewhere safe to live, maybe a little garden where they could grow some food and work towards rebuilding and revitalizing the villages. Surely it wouldn´t cost the government any more than they are already spending trying to deal with the refugee problem, and it would also create new jobs in the community for health workers, teachers etc. Genuine refugees would surely be grateful for a safe haven and the chance to rebuild their lives.

It is a simple idea but there must be something wrong with it, otherwise surely the powers that be would have done something along those lines.

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

A young Apollo

I have just googled a quotation I have always liked as I couldn´t remember where it was from. It turns out is was written by the poet Rupert Brooke. I think I originally came across it in my teens and it stuck in my mind for some reason. I remember it as follows:

"A young Apollo, golden haired,

  Stands waiting on the verge of strife

  Magnificently unprepared

  For the great littleness of life."

According to Google my version has two incorrect words, "waiting" instead of "dreaming" and "great" instead of "long". Here is the correct version:

"A young Apollo, golden haired,

  Stands dreaming on the verge of strife,

  Magnificently unprepared

  For the long littleness of life."

I have always found the lines very expressive and poignant, which is probably why I still remember them, and doubly poignant now I realize he was talking about a young soldier in the first World War with its terrible loss of life.

I must confess that I prefer my "great littleness" to his"long littleness" though, (heresy, I know!).

Monday, 7 November 2022

Three hundred and counting

I have just completed my 300th has become part of my morning ritual when I jump back into bed with my first coffee.  According to my statistics I mostly find the right word on my fourth try although once I actually got it right first time, but that was a sheer fluke. I do enjoy the daily challenge and I´m sure a little brain exercise does me good!

Saturday, 5 November 2022


If a butterfly

can flutter by

so can I


Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

Thursday, 3 November 2022

Just a little pinch

Toby has a bit of a cough from time to time to clear his throat from mucous, mostly when he wakes up after a snooze. I thought I´d try a home remedy before resorting to the vet. According to several Google sources cinnamon or honey may help. He is only a little fella so a pinch of cinnamon sprinkled on his kibble is the recommended dose. I was a bit dubious about his accepting it at first, but he loves it! He is somewhat of a reluctant eater but now he scoffs his food as soon as I put it down for him. I hope the cinnamon helps his cough but even if it doesn´t at least I´ve found a way of persuading him to eat when he turns his nose up at his bowl. I wonder what he´d think of some honey? 

Photo by Rens D - Unsplash

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Slow but sure

So, I´ve just had an idea for a war story with a difference... I don´t know where it came from and although I´ve always fancied myself as a writer I don´t think I have the patience to write a book, but if anyone wants to grab my idea and run with it, you saw it here first!

The story is about a British agent/downed airman/escaped POW in France who is trying to evade capture while traveling across the country to escape to England. He initially shelters on a remote farm helped by the farmer´s widow. Ever since her husband´s death the farm has been neglected and machinery lies around unused and rusting. Our hero has the idea of using an old tractor as a means of getting to the coast. He can alter his appearance to look like a farmer and slowly make his way along quiet country roads where he would hopefully be mistaken for a local farmer by the Germans. If he wore an eye patch this would justify his not having been called-up.

It would be a slow but sure way of getting to his destination and the story would consist of his encounters, narrow escapes and troubles on the way. He could start out with a supply of fuel from the farm and when that ran out he would have to beg/borrow or steal some. If it were late summer he could hopefully try to live off the land and sleep in the woods. Maybe he would pick up a companion for part of the way, a young street-smart lad/runaway who could help him out.

Anyway, that is my idea. I think it might actually make a good film...does anyone have Tom Hanks number?

 Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Monday, 31 October 2022



Thank God it is over, I just hope Bolsonaro goes quietly rather than following the example of his idol Trump. At least now the Amazon stands a better chance of survival.

Brazil is a large country, about the same size as the United States, in fact all the countries of the EU would fit into it twice over and there are 156 million people eligible to vote. Even so, when the polling stations closed yesterday at 5pm, the results were out by 9pm the same evening. I can´t understand why the electronic voting system here, which is admired internationally, is not adopted by other countries where the counting and recounting of ballots by hand seems to drag on interminably. 

Anyway, January 1st will be the start of a new era.

Saturday, 29 October 2022



A short while ago I read in The Guardian that the latest fashion is an un-ironed crumpled look when it comes to clothes. Guess what, I have been ahead of the game for years. I may iron something once in a blue moon, for a special occasion, but apart from that I just give my clothes a good shake when they come out of the machine before hanging them on the clothes dryer. Job done!

Photo by Immo Wegmann at Unsplash

Thursday, 27 October 2022

And another jab...

I saw my pneumologist recently post-Covid and she recommended I have a vaccination against pneumonia due to my age and other factors. I found that my health plan does not cover this, unfortunately, and to have the vaccination privately was very, very expensive. The local health clinics, where it would have been free, did not keep it in stock.

After searching high and low (bless the internet!) I finally found a hospital for infectious diseases where I could have my jab on the health service. It was a three-hour round trip by underground and bus and I have just got home, tired and hungry, but so glad to have got it sorted. I have to have a booster in a couple of months but at least I know where to go now.

Sunday, 23 October 2022

Hot air

The UN "condemns" this, G7 "condemns" that, accusations of war crimes and terrorism abound yet nothing seems to change, Putin carries on regardless.

I´m not a politician and certainly don´t know what the solution is but "condemning" doesn´t make a difference. After all, it didn´t halt the annexation of Crimea by Russia years ago.

Wednesday, 19 October 2022

A funny old day

This morning when I looked out of the window it appeared to be about start drizzling. Just as I was due to leave to go to the gym. 

I noticed that the glass was covered in speckles...on closer examination these proved to be fruit-flies, or banana mosquitoes as they are known here. Although they don´t bite I particularly dislike them as they not only spread germs but also try to lay their eggs on any food lying around, especially my fermenting kefir. I gave them a good zap with insecticide spray...only to find they were on the outside of the window! This meant my lovely clean window was now all smeared and needed cleaning.

After the gym I went to the only ATM which accepts my UK bank card and found it no longer works there either. I´ve now run out of options for using my card here. I´ll have to try and sort it out when I go to England in December.

Last but not least I was due to go out for dinner with two friends. One cancelled because she has come down with a bad cold, which left two of us. The second one cancelled a few hours later, unfortunately she had fallen over while out walking. Thank goodness nothing was broken but she was pretty shaken and bruised.

As I said, it has been a funny old day.

Monday, 17 October 2022

Bye-bye Douglas

I bumped into my neighbour from across the landing today. He is a pleasant lad, nice and polite and friendly. He told me he was moving shortly, which I was extremely glad to hear!

No, not because of him, and his name is not Douglas - Douglas is his dog, a large Dalmation. 

My neighbour doesn´t appear to have a 9-5 job, maybe he works from home, but obviously he goes out and sometimes goes away for a few days.  Someone comes and feeds Douglas and takes him for a little walk but apart from that he is on his own. 

This sadly affects the poor dog and from time to time he has a good howling session interspersed with throwing himself at the front door. The first time I heard it I thought there was a break-in going on.

It is quite heart-rending to hear and I feel so sorry for the poor animal but so far have been unable to decide what to do. I don´t know my neighbour well enough for a tactful chat, and he obviously loves Douglas, it is not deliberate cruelty. If I made an official complaint he could end up in a shelter or even being put down so I have been dithering for a while.

At least now it is out of my hands and I only hope they are moving somewhere where Douglas has more company.

Friday, 14 October 2022

Knowing when to stop

Toby, newly trimmed. The trouble with being a perfectionist is knowing when to stop. I have just given Toby his monthly trim. It is always a struggle as he won´t keep still and gets very impatient, as do I. I have to keep doing bits over a couple of days until his fur is more or less the same length all over. My problem is that afterwards I keep seeing little tufts sticking out which just need a little snip...and more tufts and snips...and more. The poor lad would end up with bald patches if I didn´t control my urge to just keep neatening things up.

Later today I am taking him to the dog groomer to have his nails cut. Do they look at Toby and wonder what happened to him?

Tuesday, 11 October 2022

I´m tired

I´ve been in and out like a weaver´s shuttle today. This morning I went to the gym then out again to the farmers market. After lunch there was a visit to the hairdresser for a trim then later I took some work to the pottery studio. 

Toby had a good day because every time I go out he gets a sliver of carrot, which he loves. The carrot seems to make him understand I am leaving but will be back because he never barks or cries as I go out the door.

I don´t like having such busy days as lately I have been feeling very tired all the time. I assume it may be a post-Covid problem since it is not from lack of sleep, I get a good eight hours every night and usually have an afternoon nap as well. Today I had to really push myself to go for the haircut and to the studio. Now it is only half past eight and I am yearning for my bed. I can´t let this beat me as I am going to need loads of "get up and go" for my upcoming trip to Portugal and England.

Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash

Friday, 7 October 2022

Go figure...

I know I blogged recently about the price difference when buying things online, giving an example of my purchase from a local chemist. Well yesterday when I needed to buy my supply of vitamin D I checked the price online and then called at the chemist out of curiosity to compare their over the counter price, since I was passing by anyway.

Most chemists charge about R$20 for a box of four tablets of vitamin D, this particular chemist was charging R$16 online. So far so good. In the shop they said with a discount it would be R$13 per box...yippee...I asked for four boxes. When I got to the till I was charged R$9 for the first box, R$4 for the second, R$9 for the third and R$4 for the fourth - making a total of R$26...go figure!

I´m quite good at maths but I can´t make head nor tail of their pricing system. It wasn´t an error as the bar codes were read into a computer. I´m not complaining, just completely mystified.

Sunday, 2 October 2022

Taking a risk

Well, I´ve finally done it! I´ve bought my plane ticket for a visit to England in December. Since my last trip which I had to cancel over three years ago due to Covid, I have been waiting for the right opportunity to try again. I had so much hassle getting a refund from the airline last time (it took a year) that I have been dragging my feet about trying again. Here´s hoping there are no problems with pandemics, monkey pox or nuclear war...the return airfare is a lot of money for me.

In other news, it is election day here today, fingers crossed  for a peaceful resolution.

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Brolly time


Well, there you go, I jinxed it. Ever since I said Spring had arrived a week ago with crisp sunny days we have had drizzle all day every day, interspersed with thunder, lightning and heavy rain. Every time I look out of the window I appear to be looking down on multi-coloured mushrooms with legs scuttling about.



Photo by Ilya Mondrik on Unsplash

Sunday, 25 September 2022

Trouble brewing

Sunday morning but not a peaceful one - my flat overlooks a ring road about 50 yards away and there is a convoy of lorries passing by blasting their horns in a political protest. I don´t know whether it is for or against the government but the racket is the same. They have been driving up and down for a while now.

We have elections coming up in a week or so and I think there is going to be trouble. The current incumbent, who is quite far behind in the polls, is already implying election fraud and he and his supporters appear unwilling to accept defeat. He is a Trump admirer and seems to be following the same playbook. I dislike him intensely.

As a foreigner I obviously don´t vote and try to avoid politics as much as possible. I was a teenager here when we had a dictatorship, I remember it well. The main opponent appears to me to be the lesser of two evils, I only hope the transition is a peaceful one.

Friday, 23 September 2022

Spring is sprung

Spring has arrived here in Brazil this week with crisp sunny days and chilly nights although we have a cold spell on the way. I shall try to enjoy it as much as possible before the hot weather sets in.

My late father used to recite a poem about Spring using an American gangster accent for some reason.

Spring is sprung

The grass is riz

I don´t know where

Dem boidies is

Some say de boid is on the wing

But that´s absoid

Because de wing is on de boid

I can still hear him chuckling as he came to the end.

Photo by Aamyr on Unsplash


Tuesday, 20 September 2022

A sad farewell


I set my alarm and woke at six in the morning in order to watch the Queen´s funeral. I only meant to watch the first part, in Westminster Abbey, but found I couldn´t tear myself away and ended up seeing the whole thing until the very end. I found it very moving and sad, and was in tears several times especially when the BBC showed her pony Emma and the two Corgis. I wish King Charles III and the Queen Consort all the best, he has some large shoes to fill.

Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash 

Friday, 16 September 2022

Bits and bobs

Yesterday I posted my letter to the pension bods so now it is a question of 'wait and see'. I didn´t register the letter as the postage is four times as much to do so and the delivery time is supposed to be the same. I would love to know how long it takes to get there.

I have just set my alarm for Monday morning, for six o´clock so that I can hopefully follow the funeral of the Queen. We are four hours behind here. I am sad about the death of Her Majesty and have tried to accompany things as much as possible. I have vague memories of going to a Coronation party as a five-year-old, probably at the British Embassy in Rio de Janeiro, and being given a Coronation mug.

On Facebook some time ago I saw a post saying that you should not mock people who mispronounce words as this means they probably learned the words through reading, an admirable habit. I found this observation interesting while smugly thinking it would never apply to me...except that listening to my audio books has made me realise there are a number of words I mispronounce. I am and have always been an avid reader so I suppose my wider vocabulary must have come from books, although I was brought up by English parents in an English-speaking home. It is quite odd to hear a familiar word pronounced in a different way. I wonder if being bi-lingual has anything to do with it.

Sunday, 11 September 2022

I am not alive!

The Department of Work and Pensions have decided that I am no longer alive and have not paid my pension for two months - this despite the fact that I returned their Life Certificate form by registered post at the beginning of August. 

Oh well, here starts the hassle of proving they´re wrong and that I haven´t popped my clogs yet. The form was properly filled in, signed and countersigned by a witness of professional standing in the community. The only instruction I didn´t follow was to return it in the buff envelope provided, I used a proper airmail envelope otherwise it would have gone by surface mail (sea!) and God knows when it would have arrived.

I fail to understand why, in this day and age, they are relying on the postal service for this type of contact. Nowadays documents can be scanned and sent by e-mail instantly, or photographed and sent by cell phone, also instantly. I can´t be the only pensioner living abroad in a country with a poor postal service, it is time the Pensions Department moved with the times.

I am writing to them to hopefully sort this problem out but in the meantime I shall continue to moan. Watch this space!

Thursday, 8 September 2022

The Queen

Queen Elizabeth II - thank you Ma'am - R.I.P.

Monday, 5 September 2022


Years ago, probably after watching some country programme on TV, I became curious about the art of dowsing to find water underground. Did it really work or was it just an old wive´s tale? I still lived in England at the time, and had a garden, so I decided to try my hand at it.

I made two dowsing rods out of wire coat-hangers by cutting them and bending them into 'L' shapes. The shorter legs I inserted into two narrow tubes so that I could hold the tube while the rod was free to swing round on its own. 

I walked slowly across the lawn with a rod in either hand, holding them pointing forward and as steady as possible. After a few yards the rods swung towards each other and actually crossed. I tried approaching the same spot from various directions and the same thing happened each time I reached it. To say I was amazed is putting it mildly. I fetched my husband and he had a go too. For him only one rod swung, the other continued to point forward.

I wasn´t about to dig the lawn up to find the water source, drain or whatever (buried treasure?) was causing the rods to move like this so it remained a mystery but we had great fun with guests over the years doing the dowsing test. For most it didn´t work at all but some were successful and quite tickled about it. 

I think I managed to convince myself that dowsing is genuine, although how it works and why for some and not others remains beyond my understanding.

Friday, 2 September 2022

The cup that cheers

Sadly I am coming to the end of my hoard of teabags bought on my last trip to England. I´ve tried to make them last as long as possible by not drinking tea every day and using each bag twice, but nothing lasts forever. 

It´s not as if you can´t buy teabags here but look at the difference in the above photo, a miserly local teabag on the left and a nice plump English one on the right. Tea, or black tea as it is known here, is regarded as a herbal tea and drunk very weak and without milk. I would have to use about four bags to get a reasonable cup of tea and even so it doesn´t taste the same. This is all very sad and I only hope I manage to visit England at the end of the year to stock up again.

Sunday, 28 August 2022


I have just discovered a good money-saving tip. I don´t know if it applies elsewhere but here in Brazil it is a simple way to cut costs. When you purchase something via the internet as in most places it is usually cheaper than buying it over the counter from the same shop. The only niggle is the delivery charge which can be quite high. Here, you are given the option by some vendors to buy via the internet then pick the item up from the shop thus saving on delivery charges. 

This morning I bought some Nivea cream from the chemist. It would have cost me R$38 over the counter. On the internet it was R$27, with an offer of two for R$44 and no delivery charge if I picked them up. My local branch of this chemist is only five minutes walk away...I made a saving of R$32. I only wish I had known about this sooner!

Photo by Ibrahim Rifath at Unsplash

Friday, 26 August 2022

The Three Musketeers

I have just started listening to a new book on Librivox, The Three Musketeers. I do enjoy listening to an unabridged version of old classics. Nowadays everything seems to be so rushed, condensed and pre-digested in order to cater to our so-called brief attention span that it is nice to be able to take the time to appreciate the book in it´s original form. I´m sure most people are familiar with the story but I doubt many have actually read the book - I admit I haven´t. The same goes for Moby Dick and The Count of Monte Cristo, we know the story, often the Holliwood version, but have never read the book.

It must have been a real marathon for the reader as there are over 26 hours of recording. Ideal listening for cooking, knitting or making pottery as I can really lose myself in the story.

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Healthy and tasty

My lunch today, not only tasty but healthy as well. Simmer some quinoa in vegetable stock until it is cooked. In another pan sauté some garlic, mushrooms and broccoli then add to the quinoa...voilá!

Sunday, 21 August 2022



Yesterday it was seriously cold here with the temperature last night dropping to 8C and a windchill factor of -1C.  Despite this I managed to have a lovely night out with the family to celebrate my birthday (76 and counting!). First we had a couple of craft beers accompanied by live New Orleans jazz (and the band played happy birthday much to my embarrassment), then we went to a restaurant for pizza which was followed by cake with a sparkler candle and everyone singing again...I enjoyed it really, despite the attention...

Friday, 19 August 2022

Them next door

I bumped into my new neighbour in the lift today when I was returning home from an errand. The flat next door to me has been empty for a good couple of years and I have got used to only having one other neighbour on my landing.

She seems to be a pleasant young lady and introduced herself, commenting that she worked nearby. I welcomed her to the building and got home to a barking Toby who, even half deaf, was disturbed by all the unaccustomed hustle and bustle of her moving in.

I presume she will have a couple of flatmates as it is a three-bedroom flat and would be rather expensive for one person on her own. I was lucky with the previous tenants, three young lads, office workers, who never made a sound and were away at the weekends. The occupants before them were the literal "neighbours from hell" and nearly drove me mad. They consisted of a middle-aged mother and adult son and three large dogs. Mother and son had frequent foul-mouthed shouting matches and the dogs were left on their own for days at a time with someone popping in to feed them once a day. The poor animals used to howl day and night. I knocked on their door to complain once and the son was so aggressive I thought he was going to physically attack me. I complained also to the building manager and they were fined after ignoring a warning letter but the fine made no difference. I didn´t feel I could take things too far as, being a woman living alone, I felt rather vulnerable.

Anyway, that is all water under the bridge now. I shall await developments with my fingers crossed!

Thursday, 18 August 2022

Lovely weather


It is really nice here at the moment, crisp sunny days and cold nights. This usually lasts for a couple of weeks then we get a few unpleasant days which are really cold and drizzly - then it is back to the sunny days again. What is not to like? I think this is my favourite time of year.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Just an ordinary day

So, what have I been up to today? Nothing very thrilling or earth-shattering...

This morning I had my usual coffee and Wordle in bed followed by a little read. When I got up I was sidetracked and did some pottery while still in pyjamas (!) then after a smoothie breakfast I went to the farmers market to get some fruit and eggs (not in my pjs). Their eggs are nice and fresh and very large.

I listened to Radio 4 while having lunch, a most interesting programme about Muriel Spark. Afterwards I had a follow-up doctor´s appointment about my back which was most frustrating. He saw me for all of about 3 minutes, did not ask anything about my back or progress at physiotherapy but just told me because I had had Covid I must not do any exercise until I have seen a heart specialist - this without asking about my heart or examining me in any way! Just imagine if everyone who has had Covid had to go running off to a cardiologist.

When I got home I was planning to do some pottery but a friend dropped by for a couple of hours needing to let off steam about family problems. After she left I made a halfhearted attempt at  some pottery but the idea I´m trying out did not really work so I went to lie down with my Kindle, my go-to solution for most things!

Now I am about to have dinner and watch some videos I follow on YouTube. They are about English couples who have moved to Portugal to live off-grid, something I would dearly love to have done if life hadn´t dictated otherwise. I´m too old to consider it now but can at least enjoy watching other people living that life.

And finally it will be bed with my faithful Kindle.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

A lucky find

There is a vegetarian restaurant nearby where we have had lunch a couple of times when my vegan/vegetarian granddaughters have been over from England on a visit. It seems to only open on Saturdays but has a magnificent 'all you can eat'  buffet - a bit pricey but well worth it. 

They also sell take-out frozen meals which are amazingly good value. Each container, which weighs over 900 grams, costs the equivalent of about six pounds, which I thought would give two generous portions but even greedy me found them too large, three portions would be more accurate. So far I have tried heart of palm lasagna, mushroom risotto, bean stew and pasta stuffed with cheese, all equally delicious, and there are loads more to choose from.

This one is aubergine parmigiana. Haven´t tried it yet. Normally a simple lunch out costs about eight pounds here. I know that sounds cheap compared to other countries, but incomes are much lower here too so it is all relative.

I have always made my food from scratch, as it is cheaper and healthier. I cook up batches which I then freeze in portions. Quite honestly, since I discovered these frozen takeaways I am severely tempted to mostly rely on them rather than my own cooking. At roughly two pounds a meal I couldn´t make it any cheaper at home and think of the work it would save me - I am basically lazy anyway! Today is Saturday so I am off out in a bit to stock up. Yum!

Friday, 12 August 2022

Stormy weather

Yesterday morning I was gazing down at the street through my kitchen window while I waited for my first coffee to brew. It was wet and very windy and as the early workers went round a corner in ones and twos their umbrellas blew inside out, one after another, which amused me. Luckily umbrellas seem to turn the right way out again fairly easily nowadays. I was thinking smugly how nice it was to be retired and not have to face a daily commute.

Later in the day I was not feeling so smug, though. The storm increased as did the wind and it became increasingly cold in my unheated flat. The gusts of wind were so strong (apparently reaching 80km/h)  that my curtains were blowing about in the draughts. In the afternoon just before I was due to go for my physiotherapy appointment there was a power cut and I had to walk down eight flights of stairs and back up again after when I returned as it was still off. It was a strange power cut as the overhead lights worked but not the sockets, so my appliances, computer etc would not switch on. It was a long evening and I found I only had three matches for my gas cooker which normally lights with electricity. I had to ration the matches, one for a cup of tea, one to make dinner later and one for my morning coffee assuming the lights were still off in the morning - which they were.

I had to walk down the eight flights again next day as I needed some shopping (matches!). My legs were still aching from the day before as I am only supposed to do gentle exercise at the moment. Luckily when I got home at lunchtime the power was back on and the lifts working again. Thank goodness we don´t get power cuts very often. The storm did quite a bit of damage with about 80 large trees falling around town.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Christmas "back home"?

Here´s hoping!


It has been over four years since I last visited England and saw my son and two grandsons who live there. A couple of years ago I actually had a return flight booked and paid for, but of course that all went pear-shaped. Since then things have seemed so unstable everywhere that I have been in two minds about risking a long journey. 

However...time is passing and I am not getting any younger, so I have decided to throw caution to the winds and, God and governments willing, I intend to spend Christmas in England. Fingers crossed!

Photo by Cameron Stewart at Unsplash

Friday, 5 August 2022

Am I alive?

The UK pension service like to check from time to time that we pensioners who live abroad are still alive and kicking. I don´t get a full pension because of living and working abroad for many years, but every little helps. Incidentally, I think it is very unfair that because I live in another country my pension is never increased, the amount I receive is the same as I was initially awarded with no cost of living adjustment.

Anyway, I received my form a couple of days ago by post, which needed to be filled in and signed before a witness and then returned by post. There is only one problem with that...the form was sent to me on March 22nd, taking nearly 5 months to get here - but I was given only 16 weeks to reply. Considering it will take 3 weeks to get back to them that leaves me well over the deadline. I posted it today, 2 days after receiving it, now I´ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Poor little lad

Toby managed to fall down a whole flight of stone stairs today, nearly giving me a heart attack. The stairs are on the landing outside my flat and I had opened my front door to receive a granddaughter who was coming up in the lift. Toby gets excited and happy when he senses that visitors are coming and he was dancing about by my feet as usual when he suddenly set off across the landing, something he has never done before. Being blind of course he didn´t know the stairs were there and he slipped off the top one. Unfortunately this was on the inside curve where the stairs are so narrow he couldn´t get his footing and he tumbled and somersaulted right to the bottom of the flight. Surprisingly he didn´t utter a sound as he fell and I shot down the stairs to the next landing where he was staggering about, totally confused. Imagine being elderly and blind and suddenly falling through space, I´d have been confused too!

I picked him up and rushed home where my puzzled granddaughter was wondering where I´d vanished to. I was expecting bleeding from his nose or mouth as he´d gone down head first, or even a broken leg or two but amazingly he was unhurt, although shocked and trembling. After a little cuddle I put him down and he started running around as if nothing had happened. I think maybe it is not just cats who have nine lives...although I think he shortened mine today.

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Dreaming of elephants

Like most people I probably dream every night but unless I am awoken in the middle of a dream I don´t usually remember what it was about. I do know that they are often of the "being in a rush and everything going wrong" variety.

The other night I had a strange dream which I remember vividly, though. For a start it was about elephants (or ozents as my brother used to call them when he was little). I dreamt that a young mother elephant was in my home with two little babies. She looked more like a cartoon elephant than a real one and her babies, who were absolutely tiny, looked like real elephants but the size of a mouse. Mum was normal-size.

The babies used to sleep in my bed and one morning when I got up I trod on something icy cold and squidgy and found it was one of the babies which must have fallen out of bed. I was sure I had killed it and started looking for the other one which I found still in my bed, nice and warm and alive. I picked up and cradled the poor little dead one in my cupped hands and suddenly realised that it was warming up and slowly coming back to life again, so I kept cuddling it until it had fully recovered. Then I woke up.

No idea what that was all about!

Saturday, 30 July 2022


There are some large old trees scattered around my neighbourhood, some of which unfortunately are hosts to termites. About once a year these pests swarm and since they are attracted to light you can see clouds of them flying around the street lights - time to shut your windows!

My apartment building is fumigated once a year for termites and cockroaches although I opt out of having my flat done because I don´t want any toxic chemicals around either myself or Toby. When I first bought the place, though, I had it thoroughly treated as there was a built-in wardrobe full of termite holes. In fact I had most of the doors removed except for bedrooms and bathroom in order to reduce the amount of wood around. I replaced these doors with archways which I think worked well.

After living here for a couple of years, one evening after the annual fumigation I entered my bathroom, switched on the light (there is no window) and to my horror a cascade of termites flowed out of the ventilation shaft and down the wall like a torrent of water. The ventilation shaft runs up through the internal structure of the building with an outlet in each internal bathroom covered by a shutter. 

I switched off the light and slammed the door while I wondered what to do. Evidently the fumigation had disturbed a nest somewhere and the termites were drawn to the light in my bathroom. Eventually I crept back into the bathroom with a can of insecticide spray and a bin bag to tape over the useless ventilation shutter. Having killed anything that moved and swept up the corpses I thought that was the end of the story.

I complained to the administration and my apartment was given a free fumigation, even down to having the skirting boards injected with poison at intervals (this was before Toby came into my life!). So far so good, I thought that was the end of the story, but...a couple of weeks later, when I was using the loo (as you do), I heard a faint sound as if someone were quietly munching some celery. I managed to trace it to the bathroom door moulding and concluded that some termites had escaped the massacre and taken up residence there. They must have crept in the tiny gap between the bottom of the moulding and the tiled floor and were busily munching away and creating tunnels.

I had to have the entire moulding ripped out and replaced, which was not cheap but at least it got rid of them. Thank goodness they don´t like treated wood so at least my parquet floor was safe. Needless to say I have velcroed some mosquito netting over the ventilation shaft opening and that seems to have done the trick as I have had no trouble since.

Thursday, 28 July 2022



We have not had any rain for 48 days, the air pollution is pretty bad - hence the beautiful sunsets. Things could become difficult soon as the reservoirs which supply the city are very low. 

Photo by Ricardo Utsumi at Unsplash 

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

At last!


It´s been a long ten days...

Saturday, 23 July 2022

Over the worst

Well, I think I am on the road to recovery now but this past week has not been much fun with Covid - I haven´t felt so poorly in a long time. I´m still bunged up and coughing and feeling very tired but I hope to test negative in a couple of days as I´ve had to put a lot of things on hold and I need to get out and about again - especially to physio.

Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Home again

I had a lovely long weekend with all the family in a beautiful place. It was a large ranch-style house with 5 en suite bedrooms plus an attic bedroom which slept seven! There was a pool, barbecue grill, pizza oven, games room, sitting room with open fireplace and a massive kitchen as well as a wraparound porch. I think originally the house was some wealthy family´s holiday home. 


Anyway, we had lots of fun making pizza, barbecuing and playing charades, and a little alcohol was taken (ahem). The nights were nice and chilly so the fire was appreciated. I think I can say a good time was had by all.


On Sunday, on the way home (a three-hour journey) I started feeling as if I was coming down with a cold and by the time I got home I had quite a temperature. I spent yesterday in bed with what I thought was ´flu but today I tested positive for Covid. Oh well, at least nobody else seems to have caught it so far.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

It´s all go

I´m busy as a bee this week as there is lots going on.

I have started physiotherapy sessions for my back every other day, I took Toby for a test visit at a friend´s house as he will be spending the weekend with her, there is a birthday party tonight for my grandson, the cleaner is here today, and I have to sort out my packing for a long weekend away with all the family - twelve of us are going to Serra Negra, in the hills,  where we have rented a house for three days to relax and have fun, I´ll need it by the time we get there.

Photo by Tania P at Unsplash

Sunday, 10 July 2022

A round tuit

I have just realised my apartment is full of round tuits. I finally yielded to force majeure - also known as daughter - and decided to employ a cleaner because of my bad back. I have resisted this for so long but finally ran out of excuses. She came for a day last week and I think I´ll ask her to come every couple of weeks.

Seeing my apartment through her eyes as I showed her around and explained things made me aware of how many little problems I have allowed to accumulate. If something goes wrong and you don´t fix it right away you can become used to the problem and end up ignoring it, especially if you live alone as I do. Just little things like a dripping tap, a jammed shutter or a loose wire. Things you put off fixing with the intention of getting a round tuit sometime! I must do better.

Thursday, 7 July 2022

No flies on this old bird!

So...I had a phone call from my "bank" a couple of hours ago. They wanted to let me know they had blocked a large sum from being transferred from my account to another bank today and that there were also several other suspect transactions. I explained that I had not used my bank account for several days and the transactions were not mine. They wanted me to access my account on the phone app to check this information so that I could be reimbursed for the sums taken. This request made me smell a rat and I said I didn´t know how to use the app properly and would go to the bank instead as it just a few yards away. The caller was quite insistent and offered to take me through the process step by step but I still refused.

At the bank, as I´d suspected, it turned out to be a scam. Thank goodness I didn´t fall for it as they were very convincing, but what with someone attempting to use my UK bank card last week and someone else using my ID for a fraudulent phone contract I suspect everything until proved otherwise.

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

A baptism

It was my youngest grandchild´s baptism last Sunday. He is one year old now and doing well. I have blogged about his birth, when he spent a week in intensive care and nearly didn´t make it. Sunday was a special and happy celebration for all of us.

Sunday, 3 July 2022

Well, I never knew that!

I love collecting random facts, my mind is absolutely cluttered with them. I now have a new one to add to the collection thanks to blogger Tom. Apparently my favourite cologne - 4711 - which I have used for years was also a favourite of Napoleon´s! 

I knew it had a long history and that its name came from the number of the house where it was developed, but the Napoleon connection is new to me. You live and learn!

Saturday, 2 July 2022

Trying times

It really hasn´t been my week so far. 

On Monday I went to the telephone company to try and change my contract for a cheaper one. During the process they discovered someone had used my ID to take out a contract with them! After a lot of red tape making a fraud complaint I finally went back yesterday to change my contract, which I managed to do, except that the confirmation e-mail I received when I got home had the wrong details. Now I´ll have to go back again.

Today I went to the bank to draw some cash from the ATM using my new debit card from my UK bank. This new card is to replace the one they had blocked after someone in England tried to used it for internet shopping. Thank goodness my bank found the transaction suspicious and it didn´t go through. But, guess what? My new card doesn´t work. The ATM refused to complete the transaction. I contacted the UK bank and they checked and said my card is fine. Now what? It is so frustrating and I have no access to my money.

Modern life and technology are getting too complicated for this old fogey, I can tell you. All this of course on top of my back troubles and toilet saga. I´m glad this week is over.


Thursday, 30 June 2022

Still going strong



This is the orchid I bought myself at the beginning of April, with the same blooms still going strong. I´m amazed it has lasted so long, and there´s no sign of it flagging yet. They´re not cheap but certainly worth every penny.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Patience is a virtue

If patience is a virtue mine just got flushed away. I´m sitting here waiting for the plumber who has been due to come and put right a poorly done job of his from a couple of weeks ago. I have been chasing him for over a week now and even though I saw him twice and he promised to come twice he has still not appeared...

The flush on my toilet was not working properly and after I had a lot of trouble tracking down and buying the necessary parts online,  he came to fix it. Except that after a couple of days the flush malfunctioned again and now wants to run continuously unless I plunge my hand in the cistern and closed the flap manually. Give me back is not up to this!


Friday, 24 June 2022

São João

Today is São João here in Brazil - St John´s Day. I suppose it is similar to Guy Fawkes in that there are bonfires, fireworks and traditional food. There are lots of parties with dancing to accordion music and sometimes a peasant wedding is enacted. Dress usually involves checked shirts, dungarees and straw hats. The festivities are called June parties and last the whole month. The origin is tied up with pagan summer solstice celebrations, taken up by the Catholic Church and brought to Brazil by the Portuguese. It is all great fun with a nice family atmosphere.

Part of the tradition was to release fire balloons, when I was a child you could even buy small ones to send up yourself and people would also make large ones which could be very elaborate. There were so many that at night the sky would appear to be full of moving stars.They used to drift down when the wick eventually burnt out and were chased by gangs of neighbourhood children (myself included!) because sometimes there were little prizes or even money dangling from the balloon on bits of string. Since they were made of paper, some of the balloons would catch fire especially if it was windy and a fireball would come plummeting down, not always harmlessly. Eventually the government woke up to the fact they were a fire hazard and balloons were banned, but even today you can occasionally see an illegal one flying, despite the heavy fine imposed if the culprit who released it is caught.

Photo by Ben Wicks at Unsplash

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

A little moan

I´ve finally thrown in the towel and been to see a specialist about my back which is still troubling me. I had an X-ray which showed up some problems so he sent me for an MRI scan today for a more detailed look. Until I get the results in a couple of weeks I have been told not to lift anything or do any exercise, not to stand, sit, walk or lie down for long periods and no housework...what´s left?

Friday, 17 June 2022

Pico Dedo de Deus

Something I read in a blog last night reminded me of a little adventure many years ago in Rio de Janeiro. My husband and I, and two other young couples decided to go to a town in the mountains near Rio called Teresópolis to trek to a peak called Dedo de Deus - God´s Finger.

It took us a full day to go up a little mountain trail to a small cabin where we were to spend the night. None of us had done anything like this before and we were ill-prepared for such an expedition, I don´t think we even had sleeping bags.

Anyway, when we arrived at the cabin we found it had only one room and one double bed. After a sketchy meal and some wine we decided to try and share the bed, all six of us! By lying cross ways we managed to fit like a row of sausages on a grill. It was bitterly cold and there was no electricity. We were bundled up in all our clothes but I shivered all night, unable to sleep and wanting to spend a penny. I didn´t want to try and get up as I would have disturbed everybody. As it was, when one of us turned over everybody else had to turn too. Longest night of my life!

The next day we headed back down the mountain in remarkably good spirits (the resilience of youth!) and I nearly killed myself tripping and falling off the path. If I had done this two yards sooner or two later I would have fallen quite a way but where I went over there was a small ledge which I landed on. My guardian angel must have been working overtime that day. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Covid update

Well, I did my test and it came back negative. Hurrah! daughter and her husband are still poorly,  family I was due to visit in a few days have all caught Covid (including my son), and I´ve just heard my son in England and his partner are down with it is unbelievable.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

In quarantine

My daughter came to see me last Thursday and we hugged and kissed as we usually do when she arrived and also to say goodbye. She came back with some shopping for me Friday but wasn´t feeling well so kept her distance and didn´t stay. Saturday she rang to say she had tested positive for Covid and was feeling pretty rough. By today, Sunday, her husband was also ill.

I have naturally put myself in quarantine just in case. I feel ok so far but will take the test anyway in a few days as I am due to visit some family this coming weekend, including a baby. The timing is really off as there are a christening and birthday coming up with a large family trip planned. Oh boy!

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Saturday, 11 June 2022

They´re back!

I had just become used to leaving home without a mask...they had only remained compulsory on public transport and in clinics, hospitals etc. Now the government are increasing the number of places where masks must be worn again, schools, public buildings and so on. The number of Covid cases is increasing rather alarmingly here, hence the new rules. At my age and with my medical history I don´t want to put myself at risk so I have decided to go back to wearing a mask whenever I go out. It is not such a big deal after about two years of having done so. Also as we are getting into cooler weather it will not be so uncomfortable.  Oh well...

Wednesday, 8 June 2022


Still on the Jubilee theme, I watched and enjoyed all the pageant, except for the 'human' puppets. The animal ones were wonderful, so creative and well done, but the large dolls bothered me. For as long as I can remember I have really disliked puppets, from the Laughing Policeman in arcades to ventriloquist dummies to life-size (or larger) figures...they really creep me out!


If they talk or move, that´s it! I especially didn´t like the very large figure in a white dress, I actually had to look away. Silly, I know, but we all have our foibles.

 Photo by Pablo Hermoso on Unsplash

 Photo by Robert  Zunikoff on Unsplas

Sunday, 5 June 2022


I have been trying to watch the Jubilee celebrations on YouTube. The coverage is actually pretty good if you visit various sites and I have enjoyed what I have managed to watch so far. Today I shall try to see the concert, which has received a lot of praise and tomorrow I shall catch up with today´s events.

I find it extremely heartwarming to witness such a positive spectacle when the usual news is all doom and gloom and the many people who organised the whole event have done an amazing job.

I can vaguely remember attending a Coronation party at the British Embassy in Rio de Janeiro when I was about five. I was given a Coronation mug which sadly went awol at some point.

Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash

Thursday, 2 June 2022

Still struggling

My back is still pretty bad even after four days of taking it easy. Thank goodness I have this long-handled dustpan. I can pick up the post or anything I´ve dropped and put Toby´s food and water bowls down without bending over. I can hobble slowly about for up to fifteen minutes at a time then I start listing to one side and have to sit or lie down for a while. Fortunately my freezer is well stocked with my batch cooking so I just have to heat my meals in the microwave. I must admit I´m feeling pretty fed-up at the moment, though.

Sunday, 29 May 2022

Of mice and men!

 What is that about "best laid plans"? There I was beavering away at the cleaning when my back went into a spasm. I have had back trouble for years, including a slipped disc more than once so I knew I had no option but to down tools and lie down for a few hours before it got worse and really laid me up. So...I now have three rooms which are spic and span and three which are definitely not, and Toby hasn´t had his bath (he´s really upset about that - not!). Resting and reading isn´t really a hardship, especially for a bookworm so I really shouldn´t moan.

Photo by Ricky  Kharawala on  

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Busy, busy

Who said being retired was relaxing to the point of being boring? This week I´m so busy I can´t keep up with myself! 

Every morning I do household chores and go to the gym. On Monday afternoons I usually go to the pottery studio to deliver or fetch some of my work after firing. This week I couldn´t as I had a chap coming round to install some blinds I ordered.

Tuesday was gym etc and farmers market.

Today was my six-monthly hospital day for scans and doctors. It´s an all-day job so no gym.

Tomorrow is gym then dentist in the afternoon and Friday it´s gym and the blinds chap coming back. One of the blinds he brought Monday was wrong.

Saturday and Sunday I´ll have to catch up on shopping, cooking and cleaning, and bath a very smelly dog. With his hurt leg and some very cold weather he´s missed his usual bath. He´s not complaining, mind you!

Hopefully next week things will be a little calmer.