Thursday, 15 May 2008

Beginning ...

Remember today, for it is the beginning of always. Today marks the start of a brave new future filled with all your dreams can hold. Think truly to the future and make those dreams come true.




About three and a half years ago Maria and I started hunting for an alternative to the flat in which we live, here in Lisbon, Portugal. Nothing much wrong with the current flat, except that it is in a big city, and we have reached the age where quiet and solitude are a more attractive proposition.

Map of the Algarve
Map of The Algarve

The hunt concentrated on the Algarve region because, as most people who are familiar with that area will tell you, it is a most attractive part of Portugal, probably the world. Since 'The Algarve' stretches from Sagres on the west coast to Monte Gordo on the Spanish border in the east, we had a vast area to cover. But several factors were used to whittle down the choices, which helped to reduce the area that we needed to concentrate on.

Our choice eventually concentrated on the Tavira area. For many reasons; affordability being the primary one. Properties in the west had already been snapped up by various Northern European outsiders, and price-wise, had gone through the roof (pun intended). We also preferred the quieter lifestyle in this 'more agricultural' part of the Algarve. Not for us the disco's, wine bars and nightclubs. Let the tourists have those!

The constant 600-kilometre round trips took their toll, and we began to get a bit dispirited with the lack of success. There were several properties available, but none of them met our criteria. You only needed to drive past boxer Frank Bruno's massive 'castle' only so many times before you began to realise that absentee landlords were inflating the local property values here, too!

We knew enough about the building and planning laws to appreciate that although things looked bleak, we might be lucky enough to spot that vacant bit of farmland with a run-down building on it, that could turn out to be just the haven we were searching for. Putting up a NEW building is tantamount to a bureaucratic nightmare, but if the land you buy already has a 'roof' on it, you are free to 'repair' the existing structure. And the same rule applies to any structure on the land that previously had a 'roof' - cow shed, pig pen, horsey thingy, whatever. Intending to exceed the square-footage of the existing roofed areas would require one to re-apply for planning permission, of course, but since the local planning departments hold only 2-dimensional paper maps, nobody is in a position to work out how HIGH the original structure was. And if those structures have already 'fallen down', all the better. Ah, ha!

So we continued looking ...

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Here's a toast to your health.

"Lang May Yer Lumb Reek!"
(Scottish for 'long may your chimney smoke')

or if you prefer,

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