Back in Central Portugal 4th to 8th December to see our house now the building work is under way. We also wanted to experience what the weather is like in December. Quite naturally we decided to see the house before finding our accommodation. Being Sunday, the house was locked up but we could see that there had been progress. New roof tiles (see photos below) and work had started to restore the original back entrance. The old bathroom had been removed and some pipework installed for a washing machine. A neighbour saw us walking over the terraces of land trying work out exactly where the boundaries were and even though we speak little Portuguese and she speaks no English she managed to explain to us the extent of our land. We later found out, through Paulo the builder, that she grew up in the house from the age of 3 months and still lives in the hamlet. Wonderful.
We had booked a few days at Sammy's cottage in Salaborda Nova. This is the street sign showing the postcode and geographic coordinates. Great idea.
It was good that Sammy's cottage had a wood burner as it was quite cold when we arrived there at 5pm.
The cottage courtyard had an orange and lemon tree bearing fruit, although the fruit was very hard. Outside the front of the cottage were more orange trees, one of which had decent edible fruit.
We met with Fernando and Carlos, our Estate Agents at their office in Pedrogao Grande. My post had been going to their office and there was quite a bit, mainly from the bank. Fernando took us to the council offices to change our address on the fiscal number documents. He then took us to a local bank to open a new account in order to pay the water company. They would only accept direct debits from local banks and as I am with Sandander Totta in Avelar we needed another bank account. The problem was that I had not brought with me any proof of earnings documents. We were able to resolve this by opening a bank account in Susan's name with the occupation of 'domestica' (housewife)! No proof was required but for the first time in many years Susan had to give her parents details, we can only assume this is because we are not married. We were helped very much by Pedro Pliseiro at the Caixa Geral de Depositos bank who ashamed us with his very good command of English. We have learnt that if you ask the Portuguese if they can speak English they usually say no, or a little, but generally speak the language very well, we can only assume they interpret the question in literal sense!
The spiral staircase had been removed and would need to be broken up to enable it to be scrapped. A large space had been made in the lounge ceiling to take the new concrete staircase. The floor tiles in the second bedroom had been removed. This room will become the main bathroom. We agreed to have the outside terrace tiled and a railing erected around the edge. This is the roof above the kitchen and the tiling should prevent water penetration.
Fernando kindly took us to the water company to register Susan's bank account. There was no outstanding payment to make. Back at the office, Carlos gave us the name and directions to a kichen supplier just off the IC8 on the way to Ansiao. As we had to pass near Avelar, where my bank has a branch, we called in to change my address and to try my newly activated bank card. This was finally achieved with the help of a portuguese customer who spoke English. The receptionist at the kitchen company was English, having lived in Portugal since she was 12. This was very helpful. Unfortunately, we had to postpone their visit to the property, suggested for Wednesday, as the builders were busy in the kichen area.
We called back at the house but didn't stay too long as the builders were very busy. We did, however, collect some firewood nearby to use back at the cottage.
We were due to meet Paulo at 5.30pm at Macobolim, a builder's merchants in Villa Facaia. As we had some spare time, we visited the river beach at Mosteiro. It was quite deserted, as expected in December but a lovely place to come in the warmer weather. At Macobolim's, we chose tiles for the bathroom floor and wall, and the bathroom suite, plus tiles for the kitchen floor and walls. By accident, when looking for a letter box we came across some traditional Portuguese tiles - Azulejo's - that we have managed to incorporate in the kitchen. We think the builders merchants was pleased to get rid of them as the portuguese have modern kitchens nowadays.
At Paulo's house we looked at kitchen styles before seeing his own kichen and liking that one best of all. We were trying to stay traditional without being old fashioned. Paulo will plan the kitchen and give us a price for installation.
Overall, we feel that it is all coming together as we want it to, with the support of Fernando, Carlos, Claudia, Paulo and his workmen.
One last visit to the house. No workmen there so we tried the keys and found only one that worked. New doors are required anyway at some future date as they are old and not draughtproof, and Claudia advised us to change the locks.
As we won't be in Portgual to deal with this, we have once again called upon our friend Fernando to come to our rescue.