Will my neighbours think I’m crazy if ……

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Vineyards in Douro Valley

I don’t know what to do here. This afternoon the temperature reached 40c (104f) and these apartments became almost unbearable inside but tomorrow we might have 43c (110 f) and we have several elderly people who cannot dream of buying an air conditioner.  I’m thinking of putting up a notice in the hall downstairs to tell anybody that wants to come to sit in my apartment, they will be welcome.  I have a small air conditioner although that is struggling to keep our place cool in this awful heat. Many people have died across Europe this year because of the excessive temperatures. If I do put up the notice, maybe my neighbours will think I’m a bit ‘over the top’ or quite quirky. Well of course I’m not quite sure how to write such a notice in Portuguese language either.  Maybe I’ll just give it a miss.

I have experienced 48c when living In India and many years ago I spent a week in the United Arab Emirates when the daily temperature ranged from 44c to 48c but in these cases we had air conditioners in the hotel rooms to retreat to.

Well apart from the extreme temperature, all is going well here.  I had an ice cold beer with lunch today which I think was a mistake because it made me feel ever hotter. Tomorrow, no alcohol for me.

The picture at the top is not mine but it is of the Douro Valley in northern Portugal. The River Douro flows through the vineyard covered hills there. I wouldn’t mind living there and growing grapes. It will never happen. You know how I always dream.


A very rare journal entry

Sesimbra 1

A very rare journal entry from:-   Anthonyslark@yahoo.co.uk

It’s been a while since I posted anything. Life has been terribly busy for me, mainly because 14 months ago I started hosting with AirBNB and apart from  two or three days, the rooms have been packed here.  It’s been an incredible experience for me and I’ve met some amazing and wonderful people along the way.  Well I’ve met maybe eight or ten pretty nasty types too but most guests have been fine and some have turned into great friends.  Hosting is very hard work if we do it well. I try my best to do it well.  We have guests of all sorts of descriptions and expectations. I think the most frustrating guests are those who expect five star hotel standards for just a few euros.  And I’ve also learned that no matter how hard we try, we cannot make bad guests happy. They will always find small things to complain about.  They are also usually the people who try to bargain down prices and pay as little as possible. These people don’t give good reviews.

I have four or five times had people crying when saying goodbye at my door. This has an amazing impact on me. Most people love staying here and find us superb hosts and this really surprises me because I don’t think of myself as a great host.  I am always just myself and try to welcome people as best I can.  I always think that I’m not cut out to be a host but it seems that I am, after all. We get mostly five star reviews (90% at present) and I am a ‘Superhost’

Since coming to live in the Lisbon area we have talked about better places to live. I do love this little apartment but I don’t like the area so much. I want to live somewhere less urban. We also have bad neighbours upstairs

Man upstairswho make no effort to control their two year old kid from running wild on the wooden floor above our heads and creating thunder for us for hours every day. And if I bang the ceiling to ask them to be quiet, they get very upset. Only they are allowed to make noise it seems. All other neighbours are friendly here.

The picture at the top of the blog is of a detached house for sale in a very desirable place called  Sesimbra,

Sesimbra-SeaBookingsabout an hour from here. It’s being sold for 329,000 euros which is just 291,00 UK pounds. I guess somebody will buy it for around 275,000 pounds. I wish I could win the lottery because I’d sure be grabbing that place. It has a great kitchen

Sesimbra 2  too so the girls would love it, when they get here.

And take a look at the sitting room. Sesimbra 5If I had that, I would change it to my style and it would look terrific. The only negative thing is that the swimming pool is a bit small but that wouldn’t worry me so much.

Well I have work to do now. I feel like sleeping. It must be that great red wine which Kumar forced me to drink with lunch today.

Just pausing from a lot of online work

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Portugal energy drink

I think I’m going to have to stop my online work for today. My eyes are getting sore and I need a walk I think.

It’s not often that I get some time to myself but today it  was possible because nobody was checking out and nobody checking in. My guests have gone sightseeing across the river so I have the place to myself. I love that.

I have spent the day working on Kumar’s contact lists for his new website. We’ve got to make a success of his new company. We need a cash injection right now. I bought four Toto Lotto tickets for Wednesday’s lottery and I always dream of winning.  They cost only ninety cents each and  a top prize would only be worth around 100,000 euros probably but we sure could use it right now.  My dream is to be able to send money to Luma in Nepal so that she and her sister can rebuild their two village homes which collapsed in the huge earthquake of two years ago. Sometimes I feel really helpless and useless. Anyway the most important thing is that nobody in our family was killed and everybody is still smiling in spite of this huge tragedy which hit the family two years ago. So many people  around us were killed when their homes came toppling down.  I was really proud of the girls immediately after the earthquake because they found any materials available and built a temporary home in an adjacent field and stayed there with my German Shepherd, Flocky, for six weeks. Because during those six weeks there were numerous aftershocks daily, some very strong.  I would have been terrified of the snakes because there are so many where we live. Take a look at the home they built:-

Emergency shelter after earthquake

We’ve come a long way since that awful day. Luma and the family are gradually collecting and borrowing money to rebuild their village homes. We now have a small apartment in Lisbon which will be our family home when they are able to come here. Thanks to AirBNB we are able to save some money in the bank. But my home is sure not a Utopia. We have neighbours from hell living upstairs and this is a constant cause of stress.  I wish we could afford to move to a peaceful house near Lisbon but far enough away to be surrounded by green trees and plants, with a good garden where I could have a greenhouse and grow all our own organic fruits and vegetables. So back to my dream about winning the lottery and the need for Kumar to make a success of his new company.

Anyway, enough online for today. I’m going to pour a glass of something good and watch the TV for a while.

Happy Easter to all my readers.

Listening to Modern Talking and remembering India. Surprise call from my oldest friend.

TAP Constellation

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I started this blog several days ago but had no time to finish it. I need to change it all now. Does anybody here remember Modern Talking ? I used to love their songs. Still do. I have been playing their albums recently and nostalging about my days in India, driving my 4 wheel drive around the Himalayan area, listening to Modern Talking cassettes. They were great days.

I have always loved aircraft, since I was a young child living not far from London’s Heathrow Airport. I lived along the London Road in Langley and I would go with my friend Stephen Roth, by bicycle to the airport to sit for hours watching the planes landing and taking off. My favourite plane was always the Lockheed Constellation (pictured above) and I would watch the ‘Connies’ for hours, never becoming bored. Air India, Qantas, BOAC,  TAP,  TCA and so many other carriers operated these famous planes. Funny that although I love planes, I hate flying in them. This is the main reason why I haven’t been to Bournemouth for so long. Kathmandu Airport saw yet another air crash two weeks ago when many people died.

The temperature is warming up in Lisbon now. Yesterday I regretted having worn my winter jacket and I carried a full backpack and another large bag up my mountain from the supermarket to home. We live atop a hill here and believe me, it’s a hard steep climb which always leaves me sweating and out of breath by the time I reach my apartment.

8:28 am on 28th March

It was impossible to finish my entry yesterday. I was tired after having to wake up at 3:45 am for departing guests. I fell asleep in my armchair after getting back home and just as I was waking up, my phone rang. It was a big surprise to hear my old friend Martin’s voice at the other end. Martin hasn’t phoned for a long time and I’m a writer, not a phone person at all, so we’ve been out of touch recently.  Anyway it was thrilling to chat to Martin after such a long time. We were best friends when we were young and went through so much together. We even went poaching more than once and had a narrow shave with the police on one occasion. I’ve been friends with Martin longer than any other friend so I’m always nostalging about those days when we were young and adventurous, daring and ridiculous on occasion.  It’s great to be in touch again.

I must go. I have a guest arriving from China this morning.


My recent news

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I pity everybody in northern Europe with all the wind, ice and snow. We’ve also had an unsettled period recently with plenty of rain which we were desperate for. This morning here in Lisbon we have bright sunshine and in a couple of weeks the weather should be getting much warmer. My new portable airconditioner will be delivered here on Tuesday,  just in time before the heat arrives. The above picture shows one of the beaches in Lagos in the Algarve area of Portugal.

The biggest news from here is that after a very long wait, Kumar is now officially a resident of Portugal and you can imagine how happy he is with that news. He has many places to visit soon, Nepal, Bournemouth, Switzerland, Germany etc. But he also wants to spend a lot more time with the business because there’s a limit to what I can do single handed.


Who has heard of Sintra ?  It’s a beautiful town just to the west of Lisbon and one of the highlights of any visit here.  All my guests make a visit there and this evening I will have two guests from Mexico City and they are on the way to Sintra right now.  It’s a place of castles, magical palaces, forest and hills, great restaurants, flowers and trees. Everybody loves Sintra.

Tomorrow we will have a guest from Malta, that’s a first.  With AirBNB we meet people from all around the world and earn a little money at the same time. It’s very hard work but I love it mostly.  I sure don’t enjoy hosting when we get the occasional bad guest(s) but those are rare.

Well now I must run. I have a lot of work to do and I have to go out to buy some bananas and potatoes.  I have to write to Tatiana in Moscow, Pipa in Bournemouth, Britta in Denmark and several more. I also have to clean the bathroom and cook some dalbhat for dinner tonight. I am really late with all my messaging these days so please bear with me if I am keeping you waiting..

LIfe is great.

Finally some time to sit and write

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My life is incredibly busy at the time when I want to retire and relax. I wonder for how long I can keep up this pace. We have been VERY successful at everything we have done here in Portugal so I guess my karma is all good.  I find it impossible to keep up in facebook and I stopped trying long ago.  I do answer all personal messages and emails though.

This is a continuation of my street and just up the hill from me. It’s a pedestrian only street. The al fresco restaurants are preparing their street spaces for the evening diners who come in their droves from across the river.  In much of the year we also have music in the street here with people dancing and drinking. It’s a very carnival like atmosphere. It looks very Portuguese doesn’t it ?  I must say that I love living in Portugal.

Turn right into this street

Here are some things about me from recent months, in no special order.

Right  now we have a great guest from Manila in the Philippines. She is fast becoming a new friend for us. Since we started hosting in AirBNB we have met many wonderful people and several have become good friends now. I like that very much. Vincent and Tatiana come to mind. Vincent, from Ghent, has stayed here six times already, sometimes alone and sometimes with his daughter. A good friend now.  Tatiana stayed here recently, on holiday to escape the cruel Russian winter, and lives with her three teenaged kids in Moscow, Russia. A thoroughly nice person and now a good friend. There are many more great people with whom I am in regular contact.

Here is a picture of Kumar & Wilma with our guests Neil & Annabelle from New Zealand.

Kumar & Wilma with Neil & Annabelle

It’s a long time since I have been back to Bournemouth simply because I get so little free time. I hope to be going back soon. I also need to get myself to Kathmandu. That will be an expensive trip. I can’t wait to be back with the family and of course Flocky too.

Kumar is fine and always incredibly busy.  His friendship, help and support have been really steadfast.  Better friends/family don’t exist.  No comparison to certain friends who have used me to their advantage and then buggered off when they were all right Jack. They will know who they are, in the remote chance they ever bother to read my blog.  I have a hatred for those who use others to get what they want in life.

There’s a rumour going around that Kumar is going to write a new WordPress blog soon, for those who follow his blog. He rarely has time for this though.

I am getting super reviews in AirBNB so I know I am doing things right. Of course we get the occasional bad guest. And nothing in the world can make a bad guest happy. I always feel stressed when we get a bad guest. My guests are mainly very good and my 5 star rating is 91% over the past ten months. I am a Superhost and I am very proud of that status.  I love those guests who become close and give me tight hugs when they say goodbye. Like Tatiana, Vincent and many, many more. Another great guest and now a friend is called Chia and she is from Taiwan.  Last week she reviewed me and wrote  ‘Wonderful !!! Dai is an angel who spreads love to all the guests’  Well I don’t think I really deserved such an excellent review but such statements always make me feel great.

I have now shed over 20 kgs in the past fifteen months. It has been really difficult but I was determined and I am feeling much better. I will never get used to tea and coffee without sugar and I miss ice cream and chocolate like hell hehehe.

We have had a severely cold, wet and windy spell here in Lisbon. Today we will be lucky to reach only 16c which is very shivery here although I realise it is positively hot compared to northern Europe.

I’m cooking dalbhat  and chicken curry in the kitchen as well as writing this blog in my bedroom. So now it’s time to get myself to the kitchen and finish everything off. Maybe have a glass of red wine at the same time.

Take care everybody.  I haven’t forgotten you all but I am ridiculously busy here, every day.

Portugal, a great country

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Sintra, near Lisboa

It’s not hard to understand why everybody loves Portugal.  It is the perfect holiday destination with magnificent beaches, warm and reliable sunshine, friendly helpful people, super cheap prices for almost everything and as a bonus, it’s really easy to speak English to the people and most young people speak English really well, in fact better than many British people can.

Right now we are in the middle of winter but today we have bright sunshine and the temperature here is 13c at 10 am. In a few weeks we can expect the daily temperatures to be between 20c and 30c every day.

This morning Ji Sing and her beautiful Chinese friend checked out about 9 am, It was a real pleasure hosting them.  Kumar never came home last night so he missed meeting them both hehehe. I hope you will be reading this at work, Bhai, (and I will leave dalbhat and chicken curry in the fridge for you tonight).  They were wonderful girls. Ji Sing is from Chongqing (China) and her friend is from Harbin (also in China). They are both studying Portuguese language in Aveiro, Portugal and came to Lisbon for a weekend trip.

At 5 pm we will host two more guests, Martha from Montpelier in France and Lucia from Portugal who is in transit through Lisbon.

Peniche, northwest of Lisbon

Life is great but not perfect yet.  We are still held up by immigration matters before we can start the application process for the family.  I miss our home in Kathmandu every day, and I miss Flocky too. Every time I see a German Shepherd passing down the lane, I start thinking of Flocky, our naughty but wonderful German Shepherd.

The picture at the top  is of Cascais, a very picturesque seaside town to the west of Lisbon. Most guests here go to Cascais by train.  It takes only about 45 minutes. The lower picture is of Peniche, to the northwest of Lisbon and very popular with surfers and sun worshippers.

Come to Portugal, everybody. You will love this country.