Feliz Ano Novo de Lisboa (Happy New Year from Lisbon)

Another blog from:       Anthonyslark@yahoo.co.uk

rossio-square-lisboa

For those of you who didn’t come to this great city for the New Year, it’s a huge mistake. Lisbon is now the ‘in’ city in Europe and visitors are here by the tens of thousands all year round and even in winter when Lisbon is the warmest capital in Europe. Lisbon is  wide open and the welcome from these amazing Portuguese is as warm as ever. It’s a really friendly country with the most warm and helpful people you can wish to meet.

This evening I would love to be able  to go down to the centre to see our amazing firework display but as in every winter I am having painful problems with my left knee so I have decided to stay at home and let all the younger ones enjoy the night in my place.  Kumar will go down with  Santos, Pradeep and the girls.  We are going to enjoy a bottle of Portuguese champagne with a special lunch today and I think I will have a couple of beers with Phil later. This afternoon a Nepali friend will drop by for a chat as well so it’s going to be a busy day here.

Have fun everybody and happy new year to all my friends and relatives in WordPress and facebook.

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Christmas Day and red wine

Another blog from:-       Anthonyslark@yahoo.co.uk

papa-figos-2014

I’m not going to start with Merry Christmas or Happy New Year because I’ve already typed those words a million times and I’m sure everybody is fed up with hearing them. Instead I thought I’d tell you about the bottle of 1982 red wine which I talked about in my previous blog. That bottle was kindly given to us by Kumar’s cousin with all good intentions and we somehow managed to save it until Christmas Day but as soon as I put the corkscrew into the cork, I realised that something was very wrong. The cork had rotted away leaving only the thin wrapper and as you probably guessed, the wine had gone completely bad. I poured the wine down the sink, something I hate doing. I’m guessing that the  wine had been stored upright instead of on its side for those thirty four years and air had entered the bottle.  Well never mind. I had a bottle of Papa Figos red on hand and within minutes we were drinking that instead. This is a very famous wine here in Portugal and the name is actually the nickname for a much loved bird called ‘golden oriole’.  Figos means ‘fig’ and golden orioles love eating figs so we could translate Papa Figos as ‘fig scoffer’. Douro on the bottle is the beautiful area where the wine is made. The  Douro Valley not so far from Porto City in the north. I’ve never yet seen the River Douro but it’s definitely on my bucket list.

Christmas Day was pleasant.  We ate a terrific lunch of Chicken Cordon Bleu with sweet potatoes and various vegetables but my best meal of the week was on Christmas Eve when we cooked breaded cod fillets, potatoes with sweetcorn, curried beans and various vegetables. I am typically British in that I love fish and french fries together. We drank some Portuguese champagne with it and it turned out to be a great and tasty meal.  On Boxing Day we came back down to earth again and ate fried rice for lunch. I was the cook and to my amazement the food was really tasty. I don’t rate my cooking very highly unfortunately but sometimes I can come up with very tasty meals. If the girls were here from Nepal, I’m sure we would have had some very tasty dalbhat with lots of extras.

A bottle of 1982 red wine

Another blog from:-      Anthonyslark@yahoo.co.uk

adega-coop-borba-1982

Yesterday the owner of the shop where Kumar works very kindly gave us a bottle of red wine to drink on Christmas Day. Not a common wine but a red wine made back in 1982 by a wine cooperative in Borba Village, about 148 kilometres to the east of Lisbon.

I always listen to the descriptions which wine experts give about different wines with amusement:-  a slight hint of raspberry or a hint of jasmine on a warm summer evening or maybe slight overtones of pencil shavings. Here is the description I found online of this 34 year old wine.  I wonder how they dream up these amusing descriptions.

‘This wine knows how to grow old and keep fit. Brownish colour, with orange and slight greenish features. Medium concentration, captivating to look at. Aromas very similar to the previous year but with more vegetable, green pepper, spices and some nuts. Palate with structure, fills the mouth and becomes almost as chewy. Complex and with nuances of dried fruit and raisins. A persistent ending’.

Regardless of whether our wine tastes of jasmine or hints of raspberry or even nuts or pencil shavings, we will be enjoying it with lunch on Christmas Day.

Finally some news from Dai

A rare blog from:             Anthonyslark@yahoo.co.uk

Flocky Wocky after bath August 2016

I’m not sure if I’ve posted this picture of Flocky before but never mind, it’s one of my favourites so I love using it. Do you like German Shepherds, Pooja ?

For those of you who have been wondering where I am, well I’m at home in Lisbon trying to recover from a spell of red eyes. I’m not really sure if the problem was caused by an infection or just by being a computer addict but my eyes are now much better and I’m online once more. I’ve discovered that pharmaceuticals are far more expensive in Portugal than in Kathmandu and even Bournemouth. I’ve been waiting for almost six weeks for a form S1 from the National Health Service in the UK so that I will be covered for any medical treatment here in Portugal. I hope the bureaucratic thing will arrive here soon. When we reach old age, lots of things start to go wrong and I’m no exception. I must say that I’ve had a remarkably healthy life though and rarely ever needed to consult a doctor.

This morning about 5 am when I was making porridge and chopped fruit, we were suddenly plunged into darkness.  Wow that was a shock and in the darkness I spilled some of the porridge over my hand and onto the floor. I fumbled my way to wash my hands in the bathroom and went to find where I had left my mobile phone. I found a pack of candles in a kitchen cupboard so I had a little light to sit and eat my porridge in the kitchen. Now I should be well used to power cuts after all my time in Kathmandu where we sometimes had as many as sixteen hours cuts a day. But the cut this morning took me completely by surprise. The cut didn’t last too long mercifully and by 5:30 am I was watching the news from my favourite armchair in the sitting room.

This time last year I was preparing for my flight to Kathmandu and yesterday our niece Rasmi asked me for my arrival day. That has set me thinking and I will check some fares online today. I wish it wasn’t such a long journey or at least we had a direct flight from here. The journey involves two flights totalling around 13 to 13.1/2 hours of flying and some hours of transit in Istanbul Airport. I just don’t know whether to fly or leave it till later.

I’m going to get a shock when I get to Kathmandu because apparently there are houses being built all around ours. Luma and her sister Moti invested their life savings about thirteen years ago and bought a cheap plot of land in Satungal where they started constructing a family home. It turned out to be an incredible investment for them because land prices have hit the sky in Kathmandu these days.  I saw the area first about eleven years ago and the whole area was beautiful, covered with lush green rice paddies and almost totally undeveloped. Fast forward to 2016 and the family has finished the house but unfortunately hundreds of other families also bought plots of land in the area and now it has become a concrete jungle, a town in itself and almost devoid of any greenery at all. The local people have ruined any green areas that remained by walking across the grassy places and turning the whole area into mud and garbage with construction waste. It’s so shocking what humans can do to a beautiful natural area.

We are almost ready to move to a much larger apartamento hete in Lisbon. We are renting this very tiny apartment but it is painfully small and we don’t have enough space to keep things. We have what must be the world’s smallest shower and the door is so small that we have problems getting in and out. Really !    When inside the shower it’s impossible to move so we have to be careful never to drop the soap hahaha. But this place served its purpose and provided a home when we desperately needed one. We were so incredibly grateful when we first found it.

I think I’m rattling on and I have no limit when I get going. It’s thundering too so maybe I should disconnect my laptop from the power socket. The TV too.  I will go to see what I can make for lunch today; red fish or trout with french fries and salad is what I have in mind.

4 Nepalis in horrific highway accident in Portugal.

Another blog from:-               Anthonyslark@yahoo.co.uk

img_3794

I haven’t been able to spend much time online recently due to some health issues but yesterday I promised myself that I’d post something today.

Immediately after waking up this morning I saw the news that there had been a horrific highway crash down in Odemira (south of Portugal) involving four Nepalese citizens. My thoughts immediately turned to NSC who is working down there near Odemira and I jumped up and grabbed my mobile phone to call him to make sure he was okay. He is. I was sorry to wake him up on his weekly day off but I was obviously worrying.  Two Nepalis were killed instantly in the crash and two are in hospital in serious condition. I will now send out messages to Nepal, to Goma, Russ and the family in case the crash has been reported in the media there.

I was due to fly to Nepal very soon but I haven’t been too well recently so my trip is presently on hold.  I wish I could have gone to Kathmandu for the Tihar festival so Russ could have gone to join her family in the village.  She has to stay in the capital to take care of Flocky.

The devalued UK Pound and other thoughts.

Another blog from:       Anthonyslark@yahoo.co.uk

One of the best moves I ever made was last year when I could exchange my British Pounds for 1.42 Euros in Lisbon. I decided to keep my savings in Euros instead of Pounds. Now in Lisbon, one UK Pound is almost equal to one Portuguese Euro. You can work out how much better off I am because of that. Now I think in Euros and of course spend in Euros. It wasn’t long ago when I needed to translate all amounts into Nepalese rupees but now it’s Euros.

tagus-ferry-at-cacilhas

Soon we should be moving into a different apartment on the other side of the River Tagus in Lisbon. The land is much flatter over that side but Lisbon City is all about hills, steep hills, and lots of climbing up and down. To go anywhere from here we need to climb hills. All first time visitors to Lisbon are amazed at all the steep climbs they have to do here. There is no metro line under the river but we have an excellent ferry service across the river from Cais do Sodre Metro Station to Cacilhas on the other side. The journey time is just 8 minutes and costs only €1.40 one way.  The other side of the river has a surface

almada-metro-train

metro which is very modern, inexpensive and efficient but is not connected to  the Lisbon City metro system. Kumar, Luma and the three girls will probably work in Lisbon City so we are trying to find a good apartment within walking distance of the ferry/metro station to cut down on daily travelling time and expense. Kumar must get his EU permanent residency first and then he is planning a Pan European tour, especially of Switzerland and Austria.

My travelling days are sadly now well over and I’m struggling trying to accept that. Now I will spend my remaining days being happy and enjoying life. I want to see all family members well settled and happy and prosperous.

The days are getting noticeably shorter here now and temperatures have dived. After the many hot, dry months of summer, it’s a welcome relief.  The first thing I want in the next apartment is airconditioning. Lisbon is one of the sunniest places in Europe and we go for months at a time without rain here. It rained two days ago after six months of sunshine. I wish it was more balanced.

 

This actually happened to me

Another blog from:             Anthonyslark@yahoo.co.uk

train-in-china

My old friends will already know about this very embarrassing thing which happened to me on a long distance train in China several years ago when I was on a one month backpacking trip by road, rail and air.. It wasn’t the train in the picture but an express train from Hangzhou to Guangzhou (Canton). The journey time was twenty seven hours and we were travelling in a hard class sleeping car.

We were seated in our compartment and seated opposite to us was a very pleasant Chinese couple who didn’t speak a word of English. The train miraculously wasn’t full so we had plenty of room on the seat and the couple opposite placed some full supermarket bags on the seat near me.

About an hour after leaving from Hangzhou I was feeling hungry and we had been to a supermarket in Hangzhou to buy water, tea, snacks, instant noodles, chocolate, biscuits and bread.  I took a plastic bag and started rummaging through it to see what we could easily prepare in our seats. The bag was quite full so I took out many things and placed them on the seats. NSC was also interested in eating and the very friendly Chinese couple opposite were smiling so I took out some oranges and biscuits and offered to them. They were very polite and declined.  I selected two noodle pots because on Chinese long distance trains there are urns of boiling water at the end of each coach for passengers to use for their tea and instant noodles. I again asked the friendly couple if they would like some noodles but they declined with smiles.  I went to make the noodles at the end of the coach and NSC and I satisfied our hunger. I was confused because I couldn’t remember buying the same flavour noodles.

Suddenly it hot me like a ton of hot bricks. They were not our noodles. I asked NSC but he didn’t know. I looked again at the bags and oh my God, I had been rummaging through the shopping of the friendly Chinese couple sitting opposite. I had offered them their own food and we had eaten their food and they hadn’t shown even the slightest annoyance. I felt myself going very red. I felt terrible. I tried to explain to the couple opposite  who had watched the whole thing in silence. But of course they couldn’t understand my words.  I quickly found the correct pot noodles in our own bags and tried to give them to the Chinese couple but they just smiled and declined. I offered them chocolate, red wine, everything I could find but they just declined with grins from ear to ear. I guess they had understood from the beginning that I had made a huge mistake.

This was one of the most embarrassing times of my life.