No Peaches for Piglet

A couple of years ago I bought a peach tree. I planted the baby tree in a large pot, talked to it daily and it thrived. This year it flowered and the flowers, to my delight, turned to peaches.

Piglet's Homegrown Peaches

Piglet’s Homegrown Peaches

After months of waiting for the peaches to grow and then ripen, I decided today was the day…

However, as I picked the peaches I realised something was wrong. The tiny brown spots, which I assumed were just spots, turned out to be holes the size of pinpricks. Out of the holes ran miniscule brown insects. When I cut into the peaches I could have cried.

Maggots in peaches

Maggots in peaches

The inside of the peaches were brown and a writhing mass of maggots. I now need to consult Mr. Google to see what preventive measures I can take to ensure I don’t experience the same problem next year.

You win some and lose some…

Any suggestions to prevent further infestation next year would be appreciated.

Eat Less and Move More…

As I’m in “D” crisis after piling on the pounds, a good friend recommended: I Eat Less and Move More…

However, in my case it has proved to be: Move More and Eat More.

I understand the principle: the more you move the more calories you burn, but you try explaining that to my growling stomach after I’ve dragged it round four miles at a brisk walk. It demands food!

The problem I have is that all the weight I lost last year and all the effort involved to remodel my body shape through dieting, Pilates, swimming, walking and Zumba has all been in vain. After my Mum passed away in January, I had an eating orgy for six months and I became a couch potato. During the winter months the wheels fell off and I hid under tracksuits and baggy clothes; I was in ‘dieting denial’. Now summer has arrived my attire of clingy tops and swimwear emphasize my bulging proportions as I flatly refuse to buy a larger size. I don’t want to wear tops the size of a Marquee but neither do I want to wear tops that are so tight they resemble a condom.

Sigh…I know I need to do something and it’s only something I can do. But what? Wire my jaw or undergo liposuction? No way! So it’s the dreaded “D” word…sigh.

At least I’ve started Pilates again and once I’ve found a new Zumba class with a teacher who does not dance like a gorilla on speed, I should will be cooking on gas.

Anyone else having problems with the dreaded “D” word?

Still, on a positive note:

Fat people are harder to kidnap

Fat people are harder to kidnap

Tipping in Portugal – How Much is Too Much?

Today we were invited to a popular seafood restaurant in the Alentejo to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It was not a set price lunch so we went with a ‘kay sa ra’ attitude. What will be will be… I was not organising the lunch so splitting the bill was not my problem for once.

When we go out in a large group I usually take my lead from everyone else. If most people are ordering fresh fish by the kilo then so will I. Equally, if they are ordering simple Portuguese fare at knockdown prices, I do the same. All in all it’s swings and roundabouts: Some you lose and some you win.

Mr. Piglet and I shared a dressed crab and a meio kilo of garlic prawns washed down with copious amounts or red and white wine. Hey, we were dining in a fish/seafood restaurant in the Alentejo so the food was not expensive. Good wine was cheap and it flowed freely… too freely! Hey, and at one point, after I’d lost my inhibitions I could even speak Portuguese.

A jolly time was had by all until the bill came. Even from my end of the table I could hear the sharp intake of breath.

“How much?”

The bill was scrutinized

My God, what a cheek! The restaurant tried to charge us for ten bottles of wine instead of eight, and goodness knows what else.

Of course it was far too complicated to break down and split as to who ate and drank what, so the bill was divided equally between the six couples. Kay sar ra… you win some you lose some…

I’d had enough wine to sink a battleship so to be honest I was way beyond caring until the person sorting out the bill demanded €2 per person for the tip. Woah…Even in my drunken stupor I could still work out this was €24 euros.
What?
€24?
“Oh, it’s 10% of the bill,” came the casual reply.
I don’t care you’re having a laugh, I thought!
Fortunately others vocalised their objections and we settled on a few euros.

Some people tip 5% of the total bill and I’m told the Portuguese don’t tip at all. But 10% is way over the top.

Unlike the USA and maybe Canada service charge is not the waiter’s salary. It is a tip for good service. While the food was excellent the service was basic and certainly did not warrant a €24 euro tip.

Jeeeeez!

hApPy BiRtHdAy, flower we had a great time!

Instant Celebrity – I Wish!

Today’s WordPress prompt: Instant Celebrity caught my attention.

If you could be a famous person for a day, who would you be? Why?

I love writing poetry but more importantly poetry that appeals to the masses. No hidden meanings or cryptic clues, just straight forward verse covering everyday subject matter. So if I could be a celebrity for a day it would have to be Pam Ayres – a poet, songwriter and comedian. Her poems and style appeal to my humour as she writes about everything from toothache, snoring to being buried with her dogs so they always had a bone or two to chew on! Yep, that’s my humour.

Pam Ayres

Pam Ayres

Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth

Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth,
And spotted the dangers beneath
All the toffees I chewed,
And the sweet sticky food.
Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth.

I wish I’d been that much more willin’
When I had more tooth there than fillin’
To give up gobstoppers,
From respect to me choppers,
And to buy something else with me shillin’.

When I think of the lollies I licked
And the liquorice allsorts I picked,
Sherbet dabs, big and little,
All that hard peanut brittle,
My conscience gets horribly pricked…

Read more here and check out Pam Ayres website at www.pamayres.com/index.php

Does your Partner snore? This poem is a cracker!

This was my poor attempt at a Pam Ayres style poem.

The Ugly Bug Spring Jive

With the herald of spring the bugs start to arrive
in my Garden of Eden for the “Ugly Bug Jive”.

The weird and the ugly they give me the jitters
who may I ask created these critters?

There are black bugs and green bugs and stripy ones too
perhaps they’ve escaped from the Ugly Bug zoo?

Grasshoppers and spiders arrive at my door
the Jive’s in full swing so they take to the floor.

The Ugly Bug Jive is now the “In” thing
and a great way to cheer, the arrival of spring.

The birds, snakes and lizards come looking for lunch
hmmm… the “Ugly Bug” guests look a yummy bunch…

Gobble, gobble, gobble!

Anyone else a Pam Ayres fan?

Unwelcome Visitors in My Garden

Yesterday, I was pegging out the washing when I heard a persistent clicking noise coming from the general direction of my vegetable area.
Tick…tick tick… tick… tick tick… tick..
(You get my drift)
The ticking, sounded almost like Morse code. Intrigued and thinking it could be a bird in distress, I went to investigate. The culprits were a baby bird, perched near my fruit bushes, and its mother no doubt shouting directions. Thinking, aw how sweet, I returned to my washing.

Stonechat

Baby Stonechat

It was not melodious bird song it was annoying – just like a dripping tap. The irritating ‘tick tick’ continued but as there were no cats in the vicinity I ignored it as I pottered round the garden weeding and pruning. I don’t know what made me return to my vegetable area but I’m glad I did. Father bird had joined the party and the noise intensified as they helped themselves to my raspberries, strawberries and peaches. I tried to shoo the birds away but they were having none of it. They flew just out of reach, taunting me. I threw some stones at them… yes I know, don’t say a word. Anyone within earshot must have thought I was crazy as I admonished the tiny birds for stealing my fruit. I don’t mind sharing my harvest with our resident blackbird family, but not with these greedy little imposters.

Eventually they took the hint and flew over to my neighbour’s garden.

I found the nets and covered the fruit bushes.

I covered my raspberries and tayberries with nets

I covered my raspberries and tayberries with nets

I completely forgot about the birds until I went to pick some lettuce for my lunch when I discovered mother and baby happily pecking the new shoots from the Groselha bush which I’d been nurturing for a couple of years. I shooed the birds away but father bird was having none of it. He darted about my vegetable patch as if mocking my attempts to dissuade them from their quest. Mother and baby hopped nonchalantly on to my strawberry pots and looked at me with disdain. Mocking me. Taunting me. No matter what I did they refused to fly away. With the exception of wasps and mosquitoes, I’d never known such tenacious and cheeky little critters.

The red mist came down and I grabbed the hose. Have you ever chased birds round the garden with a jet of water while wailing like a demented Banshee? No, neither had I until yesterday. When the red mist cleared I can only say I’m glad our neighbours were away on holiday!

Father bird looked a little less smug as he observed me from the safety of the yucca plant.

Male Stonechat in Portugal

Male Stonechat in Portugal

You’re right Marmy it was a stonechat and not a bullfinch!

Growing Cucumbers in Pots

Growing cucumbers in a Pot

Growing cucumbers in a Pot

One of my many ‘container’ gardening successes is growing cucumbers in pots. Rather than plant seeds and wait weeks for them to germinate I buy the seedling plugs from local markets.
The only downside is that there are no “fancy” varieties to choose from, or perhaps I should view that as an upside because the plants they sell are hardy and more suited to the climate of the local area. If the veteran Portuguese gardeners are buying them for their hortas, then the varieties are good enough for me.

Growing cucumbers in pots

Growing cucumbers in pots

When to plant: Cucumber plants are available in the Algarve from January onwards although this year I never planted any until March and then not again until May.

Containers: I use a 12x12inch plant pots planting three plants per pot.

Soil: I use a good quality general purpose compost which I mix with sandy soil. Three parts compost to one part soil.

Feed: Once the flowers have formed I feed weekly with MiracleGro or liquid manure which I make from soaking Alpaca or horse manure.

Watering: Water daily and don’t let the soil dry out. I made that mistake and the baby cucumbers withered and died.

Related posts:

Street Art or Graffiti?

What is the point of graffiti? Why spray-paint buildings with pointless words and random letters? Yes, I understand and admire street art but graffiti. Come on… if you guys want to decorate buildings why not make a proper job of it and give some pleasure?

Street art in Lagos

Street art in Lagos

This picture I admire and is pleasure to behold.

Street art in Lagos, Portugal

Street art in Lagos, Portugal

The inspiration for this post is thanks to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is “letters”.

What do you think of graffiti and the new street art craze?

Nêspera (Loquat) Jam

If you’re harvesting nêspera fruit (otherwise known as Loquat or medlar fruit) about now you may want to try this simple nêspera jam recipe. And I mean it’s simple… as in “easie peasie” simple!

Delicious Nespera Jam

Delicious Nespera Jam

This April our little nêspera tree rewarded us with a bumper harvest of fruit, so rather than make yet another batch of chutney I decided to try jam. Now, you would think a jam recipe would be relatively easy to find on the net but no, Mr. Google in his wisdom insisted on returning results for jelly. I didn’t want pigging jelly Mr. G, I wanted jam!

Having had a few jam disasters in the past I was about to admit defeat when a friend came up trumps with an easy recipe. And I mean easy… as in easy peasy, easy!

Ingredients
Nêsperas (peeled with stones removed)
Brown sugar (same weight as flesh of fruit) In this case 1.4lb
Juice of one lemon

Method
Add the ingredients to a heavy base pan and simmer for about 1 1/2-2hrs until the liquid reduces and the texture is more gooey (piglet’s technical term) than watery.

In the meantime sterilize the jars in a hot oven (150C) for ten minutes. Hot Tip: don’t put lids with rubber seals in the oven. The rubber melts rendering the lids useless!

Once the jam is cooked spoon while still warm into the jars and then seal.

nêsperas

nêsperas

Nêsperas taste almost like a peach crossed with an apricot.

You may also want to try:
Courgette and Tomato Chutney
Mr Piglet’s Pickled Onions!

Blogging and Goals – Input Please

Dear followers, I’ve signed up to the WordPress Blogging 201 (basically how to improve your blog). Over the next two weeks we are given various assignments. This is my first assignment and I need your help, please.

Today’s 201 assignment is to consider what I want to accomplish with my blog. Good question!
question201

I’m curious, why do you follow my blog?
What topics are of interest to you?
Is my blog easy to navigate?
What about design?
Any other suggestions, please?

I can pontificate ‘til the cows come home about what I think is of interest but it’s you guys who decide with your visits, likes and comments.

I was then asked the following questions so I have a vision of my blog which I must then translate in to three specific goals.

Why do I blog?
To connect with people from all walks of life and from different countries who share common interests and values. Interests can range from travel, hobbies, cooking, gardening, life in Portugal, poetry, books, lifestyle etc. or just a random rant for discussion.

To gain notoriety?
Am I notorious? I’ve met perfect strangers in real life and they’ve exclaimed… “Oh you’re Piglet!” Joking aside I have followers from all over the world and I’d like more.

To secure a book contract?
Yes, please. I’ve written a novel, during NaNoWriMo 2012 – it just needs editing.

One of my poems has also been published in a magazine so that’s my only claim to fame at the moment.

To self-publish your work?
Yes, I intend to. I’m now an active member of a writing website WritingForums.comwhere I glean lots of useful information and interact with other writers.

To establish yourself as a leader in your field?
No, the scope of my blog is too broad.

To gain followers?
All bloggers want to gain followers, don’t they?

Traffic?
Yes, I’d certainly welcome more traffic.

To connect with others?
Most definitely!

To work through and clarify your own thoughts?
Sometimes, but it really depends on the topic. I’m a private person by nature so I don’t tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. Yeah, so I tend to joke about diets, midlife crisis and other bits and bobs and I’ve even been known to have the odd rant about kindles, barking dogs and bullfighting

If your blog exceeded your wildest dreams, what would that look like?
Looking back to when I started pretty much as it looks now although I’ve not checked out any of the latest design options.

Would you have a different design?
I’m always open to suggestions…

How many followers would you have?
How long is a piece of string? Okay, 7000 not 700.

How much traffic?
This depends on not only writing engaging regular content and how the various topics are ranked in Google, but also how I promote my blog through the various social media channels.

What sort of community would participate?
I don’t have a target market in mind. Different topics appeal to different readers.

What discussions would take place?
Lifestyle with a touch of humour. Anything else?

So why do I need goals? I was given a whole host of reasons but this was my favourite…

Because achieving a goal is a great feeling that motivates you to set and meet new goals, creating a continuous cycle of awesome.

My three goals are:
1. Publish a minimum of one post per week during April, May, and June.
2. Update my Pinterest with a minimum of three pins a week.
3. Publish an interview with one local charity, one blogger and one author by the end of June.

Are they achievable? YES, of course they are…

Please don’t forget to answer the questions at the beginning of the post or leave a random comment to help spur me on!

Statue Infante D. Henrique and the Mercado de Escravos – (Slave Market) in Lagos

Infante D. Henrique

Infante D. Henrique

The statue of Infante D. Henrique (Henry the Navigator), sits pride of place in the Praça do Infante Dom Henrique within a few metres of the “Slave Market”. Born March 4th, 1394 Henry was an important figure in the Portuguese Age of Discovery and sponsored exploration voyages in search of new trade routes down the coast of Africa. In 1434 Gil Eanes set sail from the Port of Lagos in the Western Algarve. Although his voyage was initially a voyage of exploration, the ships returned with slaves, spices,  gold dust, kola nuts, ivory, chilli pepper and birds.

The “Slave Market” (Mercado de Escravos), and the first in Europe was built in 1444,  now opens its doors as a Museum.

Mercado de Escravos – (Slave Market)

Slave Market Museum, Lagos

Slave Market Museum, Lagos – Portugal

I’ve passed this innocuous looking building on many occasions without a second glance. But it’s only now that I’ve researched its dark history (no pun intended) I discover it was the first gateway to the slave trade in Europe. Incredible!

Other great explorers of this era include Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama and James Cook.

References: Wiki – Lagos, Portugal and Infante D. Henrique.

This post was inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.