It has been a great week. I’ve moved house and undertaken my first harvest, and to top it all, I’ve had my Portuguese residency approved!
Although as with every step forward, there are always a few surprises. Sometimes good ones. Sometimes not so good. But challenges are there to overcome.
Portuguese residency appointment
The week kicked off with my appointment with SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) in Castelo Branco.
The appointment is the final stage in being granted residency in Portugal through the D7 Visa. I was feeling well prepared, although I was anxious. Very anxious.
Technically, the D7 Visa is a two-stage process. The first stage was my appointment with VFS in London to present all the evidence and paperwork to secure the “entry visa”. This stage of the D7 Visa only enables me to stay in Portugal until my SEF appointment, or a maximum of 90 days if I am not granted residency.
Therefore, the SEF appointment is when they make the decision whether I get residency and am allowed to stay in Portugal. Hence why I was anxious.
I was though prepared. Fully prepared. I arrived at the SEF office at 4 pm, the exact time stated on my appointment. At Castelo Branco, there is an intercom and shortly after pressing the buzzer, the security guard confirmed my appointment and pointed me towards a desk.
Nervously, I took all my paperwork out of my bag and presented my passport to the agent. The agent and her colleague checked my passport number, name, and other details and kept pointing at the screen.
The agent requested all the originals of my paperwork. I had two piles, one of the originals and a copy of every document. For my VFS appointment, I needed to provide a copy of all the documents which were forwarded to the Consulate of Portugal in London. But no copies were required for SEF, just the originals.
In addition to my passport, I provided a copy of my passport, two passport photos, my proof of NIF, the deed of the property, an atestado de residencia, my Schengen travel insurance, my health insurance certificate, and three months’ bank statements. I also had several other documents at hand, just in case.
The SEF agent called over her colleague to look at my documents. At this point, I could feel my anxiety increasing. I was just thinking “What’s wrong? What have I not included?”. Then, other colleagues came to have a look too. Each one flicked through my documents and then returned to their own desk. The agent just commented that everything was in order and well-presented.
I was given back the passport photos (as they take your photo and fingerprints at the appointment), my proof of NIF, the deed of the property and my Schengen travel insurance. All that she kept was the atestado de residencia, my health insurance certificate and the bank statements. She scanned all these documents and then returned the originals to me as well.
After having my photo taken and my index fingers scanned, I needed to sign the receipt and pay the €158.15. I paid by card although I had also taken cash as well. Just in case.
Finally, I was given my receipt for the payment and advised my biometric card should be sent to my home address within the next 90 days.
28 minutes after ringing the intercom buzzer, I was back out on the street after being granted my Portuguese residency. My appointment was on time, I had no extra questions and no queries about my paperwork. I am not sure if I was lucky, or if it was my detailed preparation. I’ll take the latter.
It is an amazing feeling that I am privileged to be allowed to live in this amazing country. Muito obrigado.
The second main event of the week was moving into my new home. I had gradually moved assorted items across to the new house although there were the larger items including my bed, chairs, fridge freezer and other items.
Wednesday was the day as this coincided with a couple of bits being finished in the house. So, after an early start, the bed was dismantled and packed in the car with as many boxes and other items as I could fit.
Once unloaded, and the mattress unfolded, I was heading back to the rental property for the final items. By 10 am, I’d undertaken two trips (30 minutes each way) and everything was in the new house.
I felt as though I was winning. By the afternoon, the bed was made, and I was beginning to get sorted. OK, I emptied one box and got the kettle on.
In the afternoon, I was also grateful for some help to resolve a plumbing issue. When I say help, I actually watched a craftsman at work. I did the clearing up, but other than that I didn’t really do much at all. But the problem is resolved and I was able to fit the water heater. By early evening, I had hot water.
Next on the list was fitting the oven and hob. While the hob is only temporarily fitted until some remedial work is done, both items are working. I’ve also had a notification that the cooker hood is now ready for collection so that’s one job for next week.
Wednesday was a long day, and it rained pretty much all day. Not necessarily the best day to move, but everything was completed. There is still work to complete in the house, including some attention to one of the gutters adjoining the neighbour, and an investigation into a (new) wet patch showing on one of the walls. Maybe the same issue, but I am fearful I am going to need the help and guidance of a bathroom expert!
Medronho harvest (the first pick)
The medronho tree (often referred to as a strawberry tree) is a beautiful tree with deep green leaves, delicate white flowers and an abundance of medronho fruit that turns bright red when ready to harvest.
The fruit from the trees is rarely used in cooking although can be made into jam and used in baking. However, they are more widely used to produce aquardente de medronho, a strong brandy also known as firewater.
The first fruits are ripening so I have undertaken the first harvest. I will continue to harvest at regular intervals over the coming weeks as the fruit ripens. So long as the birds and insects don’t cannibalise the fruit, there should be a lot! How this translates in volume I have no idea as every day is a school day.
With the first harvest completed and the fruit mashed, I feel it’s a small win. The next few weeks, and then several months while it ferments, will be interesting. Then comes the distilling and bottling. And finally, a taste test.
The area I’ve moved to in Portugal isn’t widely known for medronho trees although they are more common in the south of Portugal. For more information on the medronho tree and the process of making aquardente de medronho do visit Casa do Medronho.
What are you doing on your day off?
This was a question I was asked this week. It stumped me. But now every day is a workday, the same as every day is a day off. It doesn’t feel as though it’s one or the other.
However, I do know that I am adding to the list of “tasks” on a regular basis and I sense that the list is going to become quite long.
But it’s ok. There is always amanhã.
Over the next week though, I am meeting up with a few different people which, I am sure, will include lots of coffee and a few cakes!
If you’ve got this far, thank you for taking the time to read and join me on my adventure. It is much appreciated, and I am grateful for your interest!
Melhores cumprimentos. Até logo.