welcome to emmas housethought

building to do

I’m shocked and appalled at the state of the house.

The One has been sending me pictures of the various goings on at home and I’m seeing the building with fresh eyes. I must have been focussing on the interior of the house before, because the exterior sure looks like hell.

The mass of things still to come with the building project messes with my head while I descend through a purple vacuum before falling asleep at night. There’s just so much more to do, and making some order of it puts me into a coma.


On The One’s while-I’m-away-to-do-list is to get cracking with the rés do chão. On the ground floor there are two rooms, one of which will be a bedroom and the other will transmogrify between wood storage, tool temple and japanese tranquility contemplation space.

Have I ever mentioned that The One, although pretending otherwise, hates renovating? He wants to get stuff done, sharing my motivation not to live in a  garbage dump forever, but the man gets no joy from getting sweaty nor irradiating his consciousness with the drone of power tools. He does like playing with his man-friends though, and what better reason to call them up than ‘the wife wants me to fix up a bedroom’? I look upon his housework to-do list less as torture and more like an excuse to crack a coldie with his mates.


Anyway, master builder Ian says the bedroom will take a day to do, darling. How many times in the last 5 years have I wished my mate Ian was just down the road in Portugal, rather than in Sydney. At a barbie on Sunday a bunch of us were calculating how long we’d known each other and doesn’t the sound of 26 years make you feel old?  I blame Ian for making me want to build things.

So, after the bedroom we’ve got more to do on the living room, including a new kitchen. Tragically I want to redo the walls and the floor, because the finishes on both aren’t working. The walls are too rough and the floor is too filthy. It’ll only take a day, darling.


Then, at last it will be time to don the safety boots again and launch some scaffolding because I’ll be stripping off the ancient render on the front of the house. It’s a job I’ve wanted to do since before I bought the place. De-rendering will lead to re-pointing, which is an epic job as the house has something like 300m2 of exterior wall. But I love pointing. Didn’t buy a stone house for nothing.

Somewhere before finishing the pointing the ruin’s walls need to be grown to make them level with the main house (the house is originally two house built together, one we call the main house and the other is called the ruin). I’m also really looking forward to this bit, because not only is it about building in stone, but doing it 4 metres off the ground. The Ancient Egyptians made this stuff look easy… we’re going to need some proper engineering and safety plans. Just like a real job. Be like making movies again. I should get a few grips over to help. Yay. I’m looking forward to the great arms it will give me.


Then I’ll get out of the way for a bit and let Penfold put on a new roof on the ruin. That will of course be a serious advancement especially as I’ll get an instant 50m2 dry toolshed out of it. The new roof could lead onto a new floor (although yes it would be cool to do it the other way around) but by now we are talking about winning lotto to pay for it.

But if you could just indulge my construction fantasy a little longer… the new floor gets connected with the floor we are now living on, via a doorway from one house to the other, through our living room wall. And then we’d have a big master bedroom and the room downstairs becomes an office. Then there’s the annexe, which needs a new roof, a tiny bathroom and some lime on the interior walls and that becomes a guest room. And by then, Portugal will be well into its renaissance, with an robust economy built on the back of renewable energy and an organic, free range, agricultural boom. A woman prime minister of the newly formed Green and Independent coalition will be a leader in the New Way of democratic, participatory economics, in which governments have practically extinguished defense spending in favour of improving health services and education. Power and wealth is diverted from the few into the hands of many via a radical restructure of corporations where the work of all collaborators is valued equally, filtering through society as a dilution of hierarchy and an extraordinary development in personal independence, individualism and creativity. Huge advances in science comes of this, with the eradication of many diseases and solutions for well being and happiness. Crime is therefore reduced, and freed from fear and poverty, the people become altruistic, both community conscious and world aware. And we all keep chickens.



  1. pamela September 10, 2012 8:19 pm Reply

    Hi Emma

    You are a joy to read, as ever. I stumbled across your blog a few years back when I was planning a short trip to Portugal and needed some background info, not your regular tourist stuff. Your earlier blog entries did enhance my visit to Porto and central Portugal but I didn’t give up reading once I came home. I’ve remained a loyal reader ever since, enjoying your adventures with building, pastries, pets, love, whatever….

    But I am very worried you have had to leave The One and come back to Oz for financial reasons – at least for a while. I look forward to your return to Portugal (after all the work on The List has been carried out) and may all your ‘renaissance’ dreams come true!

    [Reply to comment]

  2. spownall September 10, 2012 10:56 pm Reply

    I seem to have mislaid the list darling, sorry. 🙂

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: September 11th, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    but darling I stapled it to wookie’s ear, how could it be lost?

    [Reply to comment]


  3. Joana September 11, 2012 12:24 am Reply


    I didn’t know your blog until a couple of days ago. I am Portuguese and homesick after having moved to Sweden four years ago… reading your entries is like coming back home for a minut. Thank you for loving my country, and I hope it continues treating you well.


    [Reply to comment]


  4. Dolores September 11, 2012 12:58 am Reply

    Oh you beautiful dreamer you. We women must find a vaccine to give men so that they are not aggressive, can think with their hearts and focus on the good of others rather than their own glory. If Brazil can have a woman president it is time for other countries to follow suit, only then might we see some money going into the good of all rather then a few who already have too much.

    [Reply to comment]

    margy   Reply: September 11th, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    @Dolores, i wouldnt lump all women together as having the same loving hearts – i lived through margaret thatchers britain!
    love the blog emma, still dreaming of living permanently in our holiday home over there one day x

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: September 11th, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I was going to moderate my own suggestion about female prime ministers, with Thatcher in mind. Maybe the fantasy is that women will one day bring a quality to leadership not yet seen enough. God knows I’d be happy if Portugal just chose someone, anyone with common sense right now. Yes permanent holiday home dwellers of the world unite!

    [Reply to comment]

    Bessa   Reply: September 11th, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    @Emma, Hi, i just want to say that Portugal had a female prime-minister from 1979 to 1980. Her name was Maria de Lurdes Pintassilgo and she was the second female head of government in Europe after Thatcher.

    [Reply to comment]

  5. Vern September 11, 2012 1:05 pm Reply

    Hello Emma,

    A few years ago when I lived in Melbourne I started my own renovating business with old houses. By day I worked as an accountant in the office, and by night and weekend I renovated.
    I knew nothing about handling tools. However, I learned and soon my phone never stopped ringing as tradesmen hate old houses, because you never know what you will find when you knock down a wall.
    The secret is to take your time and write down everything about the project, make sure where you can buy material, and then cost the whole project up and state approximately how many hours work is involved.
    Only tackle one job at a time, and don’t hurry.
    If I was in your shoes I would make one part of the house complete and habitable, then advertise for bed and breakfast customers, preferably backpacker foreigners who are not fussy about their surrounding, and thus have an income coming in to complete the renovations, or you could offer free accommodation in exchange for labor.

    [Reply to comment]

  6. Katherine September 11, 2012 7:33 pm Reply

    Dear Emma,
    I am one of the many who loves reading your blog. I am so sorry that financial considerations have forced you to return to Australia to get a job for the time being.
    It would be very interesting to read about your view of the financial crisis as it has hit Portugal. I was in Lisbon for a week in April – such lovely people -poor,patient, disciplined and idealistic. Lets hope it all gets better soon though i am not too optimistic. Looking forward to reading your impressions – if writing them down is not too depressing!

    [Reply to comment]

  7. Imogen September 11, 2012 9:37 pm Reply

    Crikey Sheila…I think the Aussie Air has gone to your head…x hope you have been able to find a well paying job to pay for all those plans – which sound great btw! with any luck a new Portuguese government will change a few antiquaited laws and make it easier and cheaper to do all that building work you plan to do!!!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: September 11th, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    struth I was hoping someone might suggest I’ve gone barkers

    [Reply to comment]

    Imogen   Reply: September 11th, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    @Emma, Haha!!! No I don’t think so….barkers would be staying put pretending the world would right itself & finances will magically appear from nowhere…you are doing the right thing & dreaming about home & what you can do to it / with it is a great way to keep your heart & mind focussed on why you are currently 10,000+ miles from the One & home xxx We dream constantly about moving out to Portugal – scouting around on property sites & reading blogs like yours – but until we have a pot of gold or two on standby that will remain a dream xxx

    [Reply to comment]

  8. Katja September 14, 2012 1:47 am Reply

    Hi Emma
    I am from Denmark, Northern Europe. My housband and I recently bought a property with 2 houses in the Minho area, and searching for any knowledge and experience on the internet, I discovered your blog and have been reading it with joy ever since. Thank you for sharing so many great and diverse stories from your life in Portugal. From the building details, through Portuguese history and everyday life, I am with you, like a lot of others seems to be as well. You write in a way that the words become alive and the story or scenery materialises in front of me, when I read your stuff. I do use your experiences to make choises in my life, regarding the house we are about to renovate (or have someone rebuild), and other experiences that you so gracefully share. Thank you.
    This post made me laugh, since I can follow your focus that goes from small details, zooms out and doesn’t stop untill the entire world is fixed…. That overwhelms me at times as well.
    Zooming in on the chickens in the very last picture. Its great.

    I have tried to stay abroad from my home, in a foreign culture for a longer period and without interferring with your life, I think the stay in Australia are healthy, not only for the economy of yours, but also for your body and mind. enjoy it.

    I’m sure I’ll get the chance to meet you one day, and untill then I’ll enjoy your blog, and send you the best wishes. Its a fantastic dream you are living there, and again, thank you for sharing.

    [Reply to comment]


  9. Denise September 14, 2012 8:46 am Reply

    Roosters in every yard?! Geez that can get annoying if you value sleep. In this utopia, will cocks get to strut but not crow? Really, I just want some of that vintage, aged chicken poop to transform the rock and sand in the garden into a bona fide horta without waking at the crowing crack of dawn… Will this be possible in the New Way?

    [Reply to comment]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin