We made the big decision to up sticks and move to Portugal in May 2019 – before Covid, before the war in Ukraine and before Brexit happened! There were both push and pull factors at play, but fundamentally we were not happy with the hedonistic lifestyle in Marbella, had recently started our relationship and therefore a new chapter in our lives, and I had lost one of my best friends who passed far too young. On the pull side, we were on a castle-viewing road-trip around central Portugal in our old ’71 WV bug and were really enjoying the towns, monuments, weather, people, food… So, over a bottle of Estremoz wine, we reached a point of re-evaluation and the thought of spending another 10-15 years working in an office (and garage) lead us both to make a major change.

This week the Alentejo, just like most of the country, suffered some really unpleasant weather. We had received warning SMS messages from the authorities alerting us to the heavy rainfall and storms that were on their way, but we still didn’t feel too worried about the impending deluge. We prepared the vegetable garden with soak-away channels, made sure the drains and guttering were free of leaves and debris, got in lots of firewood and settled down for the evening.

Growing your own veg in Estremoz can be hard work – the worst bit being weeding! We’ve found that the weeds in the Alentejo are relentless and grow at an astounding pace with the first sign of rain.

You can buy most fruit and veg at the Saturday produce market in Estremoz at really good prices – so it seems a lot of work to prepare the soil, plant the veg, water, weed etc. but on the other hand as my neighbour says: water and sunshine are free.