“Bersih” in the Portuguese countryside

Sorry for the hiatus. We’ve been tied up with work. Just the usual stuff: baby-sitting, cleaning wine tanks, farming, feeding chickens, ironing… that sort of stuff.

It all started about two weeks ago when we got a bit tired of sightseeing. So we registered ourselves as workaways and discovered a totally new dimension to traveling. Workaway-ing a very good deal for travellers because in exchange for work, you get accommodation and food (depending on the hosts) and experience everyday life in the areas you choose, as opposed to the usual made-for-tourist crap.

We’ve been staying with and working for Hugh and Jane Forestier-Walker (and their two dogs and three cats) at their country home cum bed and breakfast, the Quinta Dos Tres Rios since Monday. Wanting to escape the “red tape, onerous legislation and UK rat-race”, in 2005 the couple sold off their famous smokery business which they ran from South Wales, bought a piece of land in the small village of Parada de Gonta (about 20 minutes from Viseu), and set about restoring the abandoned house that came with it. It’s now a top-end bed and breakfast, which they run by themselves with the occasional hand from their family and friends.

Quinta Dos Tres Rios

We’re absolutely loving it here – Sara gets to indulge in two of her favourite pastimes (cats and ironing) and the both of us are enjoying the hands-on experience of working the land (like everyone else here, they grow their own fruits and vegetables and make their own wine) as well as life in rural Portugal.

Chicken and duck feeding time. The cockerel attacked Sara right after this photo was taken

For some reason, Sara thinks ironing is a lot of fun

Digging and raking is much more fun (and better exercise) than ironing

Fun task of playing with Hugh and Jane's granddaughter Eilah

Not much fun when Zero broke the pot and we had to clean up his mess

Getting a quick lesson on grapevines

Cleaning wine tanks - this was a 1000-litre wine tank

We both crawled inside (not together, but in different tanks) to give the tanks a good scrub

Dylan keeping his head warm

Hugh and Jane have made us feel like part of their extended family. Every night Jane whips up fabulous dinners, and we particularly enjoy Hugh’s almost daily attempts to teach his 84-year old mother in the UK how to use Skype on her new iPad. “Slide your finger firmly but gently across the screen like you’re stroking a feather, find the button that looks like a camera and tap on it…”

Their good friends, George and Di live in another village about 20 minutes away. George was particularly interested in meeting us when he found out that we were from Malaysia as he has many fond memories from his time there as a British army paratrooper in the 1970s. We spent some time listening to his stories of encountering wildlife and people in the forest as well as being stuck in a parachute way up in the forest canopy – we will have to record his amazing stories someday.

Hugh showing off his potatoe mashing skills. The couple also makes their own jam, marmalade, chutney, olive oil and mayonnaise, among other things.

The cats, Zero and Kit Kat, at one of the warmer areas in the house. Jet (Zero's sister) only comes into the house once in a while.

Our first lunch there, on the patio

Kit Kat likes to go for walks in the evening and complains when he's left behind

Hugh gave us a tour of an old textile mill located within their property. He plans to turn it into a top-notch apartment complex for old folks

Yesterday, Hugh and Jane gave us some time off to sit down or “duduk bantah” in solidarity with our friends who bravely took on the water cannons, tear gas and razor wire on the streets of Kuala Lumpur during the Bersih demonstration for free and fair elections.

Sitting down on the job in support of a worthy cause and our brave friends in Malaysia

More work to be done in the next few days before we become tourists again. Leaving for Porto on the 2nd and flying off to Milan, Italy, the following day.

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11 thoughts on ““Bersih” in the Portuguese countryside

  1. Johan Ong says:

    Looks like tough work!

  2. soon hoe says:

    Nice one Dylan, Sara… what an experience it must be. And Sara, we have this fantabulous Bed and Breakfast Work-away place that will really appreciate your enthusiasm in ironing. Right now it is in Cologne but later we will have one in Melbourne. You are more than welcome to come stay with us. Food, accommodation and even free time to watch TV or DVDs can be thrown in for good measure. You get get 3 days off a week.

  3. Mum says:

    How did you manage to get into the tank, seems only big enough for Dylan’s head! Weather so nice, no sweat doing all the raking and cleaning ya?

  4. wheres the llama!:P .. i know for a fact that sara does love ironing..hahahahah.. and the tong wine tu, wat thaa…go inside the tong???? crazy dudes..like time machine the pic

  5. AnemOthman says:

    Missing sara dearly…:(

  6. Ee Lynn says:

    Ironing, digging, raking, cat-sitting, babysitting — sounds like a perfect holiday to me! Zero had a sneaky smile on his face after breaking the pot!

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