welcome to emmas housethought

Reason for Absence: To Whom it May Concern

Dear Sir/ Madam

We would like to explain Emma’s protracted absence this month, and hope for your understanding on this matter.

To start with, Emma had a cold. We cannot provide a doctor’s certificate but as we are recovering from the worst winter on record I’m sure you appreciate that a few sick days are to be expected.

We believe the cold was brought on by stress, first initiated when Emma’s old but faithful ibook refused to start up. Thus began a search for the nearest apple repairer which led to the fateful trip to Coimbra.

On the way home was when the accident occurred. In a setting of rain,  congested traffic and roadworks, the driver in front braked suddenly and in reacting, Emma’s vehicle slid into oncoming traffic and collided with the another vehicle. Yes, yes, all her fault, technically. Fortunately, no excess of speed was involved, and Wookie simply slipped from the passenger’s seat onto the floor.

In service of expediency, Emma admitted fault and she and the other driver got all amicable together. It was then that Emma had the dumb idea of calling the cops. In the meantime, Emma was experiencing shock and some confusion regarding the circumstances of the accident. She stood staring at the large amount of debris on the road, particularly at a broken number plate that did not belong either to her vehicle nor to the other driver. The quantity of broken plastic and glass was most bewildering, especially the Fiat badge on a busted front grill and a discarded bumper bar. A road worker approached Emma and taking her by the shoulders, guided her back off the road. “This is the seventh accident here today. They only just finished sweeping the road after the last one,” he said.


Then Emma realized how the accident had happened. The road was as slippery as an ex-prime minister at a tribunal hearing, covered in a fine and compromising layer of dirt and oiliness. She had unwittingly ventured into an accident black spot. Bummer.

The coppers arrived. They didn´t help. They were mean, in a bad mood, and I´ve met some surly pigs in my life. Egyptian police for example; you have to carry cigarettes for them to calm them down. I encountered Turkish police after being sprung kissing in a public place, and even though I had apparently broken the law and they took us down to the station, there were quite ok, possibly a bit embarrassed as I kept asking them what they were doing at a remote lookout at midnight… was there a murderer?


But here goes the porty policia; after I so rudely interrupted their card game or something… They asked me to explain the circumstances, then banana 1 walked away, just as I started to speak. Banana 2 was not interested in looking at the scale of the debris left by other vehicles or speaking to the roadworkers on the scene. They wouldn’t even look me in the eye. B2 shouted. I replied, I´m foreign, not deaf. They made derisive remarks like “we. don’t. speak. engrish”. They accused me of excessive speed (based on what?). If they were so keen to do their job, the opportunity was there eating a doggie chew on my front seat – Wookie should have been in a box. But I surmise that these gents were as adequate at policing as they were at being decent.

But it´s just bad police PR: this behaviour I think is so very unportuguese. The other driver was embarrassed for them and within a few minutes of the police’s arrival apologised to me on their behalf. After several attempts, and despite me not holding the right bit of insurance paper, the other driver convinced me not to involve them.

Driving past the location a week later, the traffic was diverted and the same stretch of road is closed, like it was all some b-grade conspiracy movie about an hysterical blonde journalist.

Now car-less and computer-less I decide the time is right to chop off the dog’s nuts. Wookie becomes tomato-less. On a previous visit home (during houseminding) I met another 6 or 7 little wookie-poodles who may, any day, be abruptly given a new home in the wild. There are other male dogs in the village to father future furry tragedies, but at least I and mine will not be a part of it. So then, a couple of days leave-of-absence were spent passing the bag of frozen peas to the dog. I am secretly hoping that the desire to chase sheep and chickens was sexual, and has also therefore been neutered.

Speaking of home, houseminding bliss in the Ribatejo came to an end and I had to move back to the village. Nastiness awaited; my entire house went mouldy while I was away. The walls had mould, the toaster had mould, the picture frames had mould. Not just a few days were spent cleaning, scrubbing, washing, drying, painting and moving stuff in and out.

And just when I almost had the house habitable again, a film crew wanted to move me out again! They came to shoot an episode of  House Hunters International, a cable show about foreigners and real estate. Naturally, with drama/disaster in my aura I took the whole filming thing like a visit from demons-past. Not only that they wanted me to re-live the whole house buying catastrophe but the ghost takes the form of the film industry and this time I am to be the instrument and not the musician, or even the composer. Warm props. Actors. Talent. Yuck.


Of course it wasn’t so bad. In fact, the crew were so adorable (hi to chris, davide & jeff, we are still missing you) that it made me want to be back in the business. They reminded me of some of the great people I worked with, and particularly of the world-wise, liberal, sharp and simpatico men the film industry has in its employ. As for the action, Mao stole the show by hiding in the stone oven just as I was trying to act out ´getting a feel for living here´ and poked him with a bread paddle. He flew out, towards camera, quite literally like a bat out of hell. Soory for the heart attack davide, but god I hope you got the shot.

Meanwhile the car is fixed and my 4 week shitfight to get a new mac is finally over (just cut to the chase and buy it from fnac, portuguese mac-people, and don’t be seduced by the price of the mac mini, as it’s a hassle and a half. The piece work then becomes cable wrangling and more whatnot. And how much is this non-mac keyboard shitting me? Just buy the macbook next time. Just buy the macbook. Just… Grr) Another few days spent unpacking boxes and searching for items lost (if filming is tolerable then try moving house and filming on the same day). But now there’s the internet connection problem. Apparently the phone line also went mouldy and PT hasn’t fixed it yet and nor do they seem interested in doing so. Usual game. It’s been said before, but when it comes to modern life, Portugal is a pain in the arse. They have the technology, they just don’t know how to work it.


Now if all that isn’t enough of an excuse, I also slipped off to Stockholm for the easter weekend to do another day’s shoot (again, super nice crew, Izzy Paul and Ray), and to hang out with some sorely missed Swedish friends. If I really could relive the house purchase, I would take a tin shed there rather than a stone chateau here anyday. Sorry tugas, but Sweden is truly utopian.


The only bad thing about going away is what I come back to. Not only did Mao abscond for 4 days of the 5, he also to broke a toe. But Wookie and I are back on track after a few months where there was no love left to lose. There’s a whole lotta brown furry love going on at my place.

So while I am not exactly online, I am at least trying to be. Standby for more, if you please.



  1. Chris April 23, 2010 11:24 pm Reply

    I am secretly hoping that the desire to chase sheep and chickens was sexual, and has also therefore been neutered? Well it didn’t work with my two boys here in Turkey Emma, lets hope Portugese dogs respond more obligingly.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 27th, 2010 at 12:57 am

    Hi chris!
    He´s is certainly still capable of breaking his chain and running off… but as yet no chooks or sheep molested. The goat tried to have a go, but he´s bigger than wookie now and the little puppy-poo´s not quite so sure about goat games now… horns and everything… mmmm

    [Reply to comment]


  2. Celia April 23, 2010 11:29 pm Reply

    Wow, what a journey these last few weeks have been. Aren’t Portuguese cops wonderful? So not helpful. I’m sorry about your car and mac, but super glad Wookie is tomato-less.
    Do you know when your House Hunters International episode will air? We happen to have the cable channel that airs those. Would love to see you and Portugal as well.
    Hugs. Hope things continue to go well for you now that all the crap is over.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 27th, 2010 at 12:54 am

    HI! And those cops weren´t even cute! Ripped Off! We aren´t missing wookie´s nuts either, but boy am I missing that old laptop! They say the househunters will go to air in about 6 months… like september. I´ll make a gratuitously self publicizing announcement, never you mind 🙂 x

    [Reply to comment]

  3. Ad April 23, 2010 11:36 pm Reply

    Thank you, I feel so much better informed all of a sudden, about all sorts of things.

    Tin shed in Sweden? That one’s all yours.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 27th, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Won´t join me for emma´s tin shed in sweden? Doesn´t quite have the same ring, does it…kisses

    [Reply to comment]

  4. Emma April 23, 2010 11:42 pm Reply

    Yeah, that bit up to Coimbra is now all lovely and well tarmac’d and not a bit of car debris in sight (yeah, right, this is Portugal…) But does that pink hoodie of yours ever get washed?

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 27th, 2010 at 12:47 am

    You only see me on odd days. On evens I wear the red icebreaker hoodie 🙂 It those jeans that never get washed.

    [Reply to comment]


  5. PAULO REIS April 24, 2010 9:33 am Reply


    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 27th, 2010 at 12:44 am

    Grrrrr, ruff ruff. I lost my mind a while ago Paulo…. nothing left to make.

    [Reply to comment]

    Paulo Reis   Reply: April 27th, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Chill out , we just passing through , no need to stress out , good luck Emma…

    [Reply to comment]

  6. Maria Silva April 24, 2010 10:16 am Reply

    Yep, looks like things haven’t changed much… Portuguese cops have never been known for their tact! Hang in there and I’m sure everything will turn out right. I’m not so sure about a tin shed in Sweden though… Meanwhile, enjoy the friendly Portuguese hospitality! Cheers!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 27th, 2010 at 12:50 am

    No votes for the tin shed idea so far… thanks maria!

    [Reply to comment]

  7. Anna April 24, 2010 12:39 pm Reply

    “But it´s just bad police PR: this behaviour I think is so very unportuguese.” Unfortunately Emma it is. It’s exactly what Portuguese cops are like.
    Seems like you’ve been through the ringer.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 27th, 2010 at 12:49 am

    It must be totally shit being a cop… maybe they should go buy a ruin in australia or something…

    [Reply to comment]


  8. Dee Hawa April 24, 2010 7:55 pm Reply

    Disappointing news about the cops Emma, and I thought they
    would have better ‘social skills’ that the ones down here in southern Spain. These dudes are the worst .. 60 euro fine for little brown dog on my knee and I was the passenger! lots of adjusting of Ray-Bans and posing going on though! (by them not me)
    All my boys bar one are tomato-less, hope springs eternal though, and they still strut their funky stuff around the hamlet.

    Anyway, at least you and yours are safe… and drying out nicely up there, UGH! what a winter the whole of Iberia seems to have had!
    Dee x

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 27th, 2010 at 12:42 am

    Really truly drying up now, a fab sunny day today! Good to hear from you as always. x

    [Reply to comment]

  9. Ged April 25, 2010 2:54 pm Reply

    I Em,
    Brother Ged here. Sorry to hear the news but so glad you’re okay. Yes this is my first comment on your site.
    You could have the same problems with cops anywhere.
    You know our 4 dogs are done too, but that doesn’t stop little romeo trying to hump Lita the sharpei (i think that how you spell it since is a chinese breed). Missed you over the past few weeks but now i know where you were. Got any skiing in ?
    Will email you.
    Luv Ged

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 27th, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Hi Geddy! Wow! I´m impressed! Now you´ll have to get those damn nephews of mine onto it 🙂 Thanks for stopping by… Miss you… when you coming to europe again?

    [Reply to comment]

  10. Isabel April 25, 2010 10:30 pm Reply

    Very good! (Ahem… Schadenfreude for the sake of literary entertainment!)

    [Reply to comment]

  11. Jennifer April 27, 2010 11:07 am Reply

    Ola Emma
    Welcome back, we sure missed you. I am incredibly inspired by your story. I’m an English Language Teacher & have been working in Timor Leste & am an IELTS Examiner on the Gold Coast.

    My gorgeous Mum passed away and left me some money.
    No way can afford real-estate Gold Coast! Dream of owning Portugal casa? Is this possible me being an Aussie and all?
    Desperate 4 advice…
    Ate mais tarde
    Jennifer xxx

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 28th, 2010 at 2:34 am

    No reason you cant own a house here jen… I couldnt afford gold coast either! Try reading ´buying´but there´s no way you´ll have the same trouble as me…

    [Reply to comment]

  12. job at home April 29, 2010 11:06 pm Reply

    I like design of your site What is the name of template ?

    [Reply to comment]


  13. Rita Carreira May 10, 2010 2:59 pm Reply

    Oy, your excess speed remark made me smile. In Portugal, excess speed is defined as the speed at which you cannot stop the car in time to avoid collision. I can still remember my instructor drilling on my brain that you could be going at 10 kmph but if you could not stop the car before hitting someone or something, you were speeding.

    Portuguese drivers are overconfident but for the most part they follow the rules. Now I live in the U.S. and let me tell ya, people here do not know how to drive defensive and efficiently. And they pass you on the right half of the time!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: May 10th, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    They might be following the rules,but there are some daft rules! And I´m really not sure they know how to use roundabouts… but I do love the portuguese laissez faire parking style, wherever, however 🙂

    and we love alfred´s blog! Cool! Thanks Rita.

    [Reply to comment]


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