Bananas, grapes, lemons, oranges, peaches, apricots, pears, figs, lime, olives, pomegranates, peanuts, petanga – the Sunrinam cherry – all grow in the garden of the house where I’m staying. I’ll be bringing a few seedlings back to France and see how I get on with them. The petanga is delicious although a rather dull bush but certainly worth taking trouble with.
Eucalyptus and mimosa are weeds round here. There are lots of cork oaks whose bark is removed every nine years. The number of their last year of harvesting is painted on the trunk so that the farmer knows when they’re next due. You need a lot of them to get rich as one tree produces 25 euros-worth each time. A supermarket check out worker earns 2.50 euros an hour. It’s not a rich country. To achieve anything through the bureaucracy or judiciary depends who you know or how much you’re willing to put in the brown envelope – allegedly.
We sat in a square drinking new wine. All the surrounding buildings were single storey and white with blue-painted trimmings. Apparently the blue started with one trendy soul who did his house like that and the whole region followed suit. Now a yellow fashion is beginning to take hold as an alternative. The Portuguese look as unhealthy as the Scots, many rolling along behind huge bellies in ugly clothes. The French are neat in figure and dress in comparison. A small grove of trees by the road was covered in huge white flowers, until one stretched its wings and they all turned into cattle egrets. Bee eaters abound – beautiful little birds. We walked the dogs along the beach with the great rollers coming in from the Atlantic. The high water mark was shingle, most of the rocks white-veined which I’ve only noticed before at Smiriseray in Argyllshire.