Six months ago, I had just sold the remainder of my furniture, made numerous trips to charity shops, and was living with minimal items. I recall being concerned about whether the items I was taking to Portugal would fit in the car. Was I bringing too much? Had I disposed of too much?
At that point, there were so many questions that I simply didn’t know the answer to. Even now, having lived in Portugal for nearly six months, some of those questions remain unanswered.
However, my move to Portugal was a way to motivate, and challenge, myself to reduce the number of material items I owned, many of which I simply never used from one year to the next.
The minimalistic approach has continued. While I have purchased a few major items, namely a bed, sofa, washing machine and fridge/freezer, I am only purchasing other items when I have a real need for them. In the meantime, I make do. And, if I can make do for long enough, then do I really need to buy an item? But gone are the days when I’d end up buying something to put in a cupboard and never open the box.
It’s slightly different with the quinta as some items I simply need to buy, like the fencing I installed last week. Equally, there are so many items at the farm that I am also making do. For example, most of the weed matting I’ve used is some old (and rotting) tennis court carpet. It wasn’t in great condition, but it’ll do the job.
A greater commitment to reusing, repurposing and restoring is welcomed, and really quite satisfying. Long may it continue.
Fast forward six months and I am just planning a brief return to the UK. I’m travelling with just hand luggage and I’m challenging myself whether I’m over or under-packing. Historically, I’ve always been an over-packer. But I’m learning.
Cutting back the weeds, heather and olive branches
The weather has improved for most of the week. T-shirt weather, but it’s not been warm enough for shorts. Give it a couple of weeks.
This better weather has meant I’ve managed to get quite a lot of work done on the quinta. More clearing of weeds (the compost pile is very full) and I’ve now got various areas covered to kill off the weeds and ready for planting.
I feel as though I might be a little behind in getting plugs into the ground, but it’s all learning. And we’re still potentially due a frost or two so maybe I’m just being cautious. Small steps.
I’ve managed to clear all the heather and pine tree shoots growing in the olive groves, vineyard and pathways. It looks much clearer, but I now have a huge pile of bracken I need to sort.
Once the last frost has been, the olive trees will need pruning. As an olive tree pruning virgin, this gives me a little anxiety. I’ve read about it. I’ve watched some YouTube tutorials. I’m grateful for some advice from friends. But I’m still having the jitters about it.
So, I’ve booked myself on to a course to learn all about pruning, managing, and diversifying traditional olive groves. Two solid days in February of learning about olive trees. It’s a practical course so hopefully, I’ll return with greater confidence and understanding. No doubt more to follow on the course.
Managed fire in Portugal
The end of the week brought low clouds and an expectation of more rain. Several neighbours had small fires on their land, so I took the opportunity to burn the heather I’d dug up over the last couple of weeks.
The speed that the heather burnt, and the intensity of the heat, were a reminder of why so much emphasis is put on clearing the land to prevent fires in Portugal. Fortunately, I’m managing to keep on top of the unwanted plant growth, but I anticipate there will be rapid growth over the coming weeks as the temperature increases.
Hiking and praia fluvials
Praia Fluvial Da Fróia is my closest river beach. It’s less than ten minutes away and has all the amenities including a café and changing rooms, as well as lots of walks and cycle routes starting from the praia fluvial.
When I visited at the end of last year’s season, the main swimming area was closed due to the low water level caused by the heatwave, but all the other amenities were open. Even without the swimming, it was quite busy.
This week I completed one of the walks that start at the car park. It was a short 6km walk that follows the river, heads up into the forest to an (almost) abandoned village, and then back to the river beach. It was a super walk and great to get back out for a short hike.
I also took the time to walk around the praia fluvial and, judging by the space allocated to car parking, I anticipate it gets busy during the summer. And I can’t wait.
There are six river beaches within 12 km of my home, so I am looking forward to visiting them all over the summer. One of them, Praia Fluvial de Cardigos, is consistently in the “top ten” of praia fluvials.
NHR, IMT, IFAP, EAF – even more acronyms than the NHS!
Finally, this last week I’ve had confirmation that my non-habitual resident (NHR) status has been granted. This means I am taxed for UK income in the UK and not taxed again as a resident of Portugal on this income. Oh, tax is so interesting.
Continuing the “admin” theme, I’ve applied to register my driving licence in Portugal. There were changes at the end of December 2022 which means that, at present, I do not need to exchange my driving licence for a Portuguese one but must register it with the IMT (Instituto Da Mobilidade E Transportes) within 60 days of receiving my residency card.
This scheme of registering, rather than exchanging, your licence has been brought to reduce the bureaucracy and speed up the process for the IMT. Hopefully, it will be straightforward as I understand that changing your licence can be challenging.
Not holding back on “admin” tasks, I’ve also scheduled a health check and contacted the Instiduto De Financiamento Da Agricultura E Pescas (IFAP) to register as an Estatuto da Agricultura Familiar (EAF), a family farm which means I can sell produce and products that I grow or make on the quinta.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you will continue to join me as I continue my adventure in Portugal. It is certainly going to be a busy, fun, challenging and exciting time.
Thank you, your continued support is much appreciated, and I am grateful for your interest in my adventure!
Melhores cumprimentos. Até logo.
5 thoughts on “Just go with the flow!”
Lovely post, Marc! We are saving this one to use as a “My Story” column in an upcoming issue of Portugal Living Magazine.
Publisher & Creative Director
Olá Bruce, thanks for your comment and thank you for including me in an upcoming issue of Portugal Living Magazine
Great newsletter Marc. Very informative and nice to hear you are doing well
Thanks Stephen much appreciated.