welcome to emmas housethought

autumn: the ten warning signs of winter

My brother-in-law suggested that this week I wax lyrical about the sensuousness of Autumn. The crisp, clear mornings, the changing light and the beautiful colours of this season that gently segues into the hell pit horror doom and evil of winter.


Yeah, he’s European. I’m not. I detest winter. Autumn is like an air raid siren warning that a million Messerschmidts are about to drop a billion big freezing bombs of depressingly dank dark wetness and torture upon us.

Frankly put me to bed now and don’t get me up until May. Was a grizzly bear in past life. Goes without saying.

So, if you’re not feeling the cold yet, here are some tips from my house that indicate winter is definitely well on its hideous way.

1. The cat sits on your lap while you are on the toilet.

2. Cat-Dog-Cat have settled their differences with the objective of sharing front row seats at the fireplace.


3. Mao howls incessantly about when we are going back to Australia.

4. Getting the electric blanket on in advance of bedtime merits a fridge reminder note.

5.  Who left the door open turns into WW3.

6.  Suddenly soup has become an acceptable meal option.

7.  The ‘scalding’ hot water setting in the shower now feels quite nice.

8.  Pyjamas. Quel horreur. Never forsake fashion, my friend Tessa once warned. Pyjamas. Oh the shame.

9.  Pine cone collecting has reached obsessive levels.

10. Being in bed by 9pm doesn’t seem extravagant.

The real tragedy is, this is Portugal, where their only ski field is appropriate for toddlers. Well, ok, it’s a sweet little ski field but it will not challenge anyone Nordic. What I mean is, this is Europe-winter-light. Dear god, please bring me central heating and an entire wardrobe of Icebreaker. Thank you.


  1. Emma October 25, 2010 2:05 am Reply

    I love the autumn; all the rich, deep fabrics & colours are now allowed (currently wearing ‘maxi’ black velvet riding skirt & boots; so ‘on trend’ it hurts). I don’t suit the ‘flash the flesh’ of summer, especially the summers of Portugal, so adore autumn and winter when the tones suit me and I can cover up.

    However, I hate being cold. So this house-build there are portable radiators and a wood burner that chucks out the heat like never before. Come the change of the clocks, it will be on at 3pm sharp, every day, come sun or rain. ‘Cause as we know, as the sun goes down, the lights go out and it gets cold.

    So I say, bring it on, the jumpers and the collants; bonfire night is just around the corner; there is mulled wine aplenty and the next 5 months will go so fast, it’ll be Spring before you know it. See you at Carnaval?

    [Reply to comment]


  2. Kerry October 25, 2010 2:38 am Reply

    Hahaha! fantastic, i totally agree… so glad im not the only one then.

    [Reply to comment]


  3. sophie October 25, 2010 4:12 am Reply

    aha, i am not the only one to have noticed the thing with the shower water then … but i am totally puzzled by it! why, as the temperature outside gets lower, does the shower water setting have to get higher? surely in summer when our bodies are hotter we should be able to stand hotter water, not be scalded by it?

    [Reply to comment]


  4. jeannette October 25, 2010 4:38 am Reply

    sophie what happens when the air temp is cooler is that the ground temp also cools down meaning that your water supply pipe becomes cold ,doesnt need much but very noticeable, tony ex water engineer

    [Reply to comment]

  5. Jaime October 25, 2010 7:18 am Reply

    ahah…and this is Portugal maybe the warmest winter in all Europe, still it sucks! … I hate above all, consecutive days of cold rain, but we always have some sun and the temperature does not fall below 0 often, at least here in Lisbon where we have a warm winter especially compared with you there in the mountains. I loved your blog Emma, Glad you like Portugal and it´s wierd people from the vilages…good luck! One thing is certain, they will help you whenever you have a problem…meanwhile, watch out for your dog (not funny).
    Enjoy the season ahead!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: October 25th, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Wise words, grasshopper. That’s the portugal I live in too. Thanks and please check in again. x

    [Reply to comment]

  6. Worried of Benfeita October 25, 2010 8:27 am Reply

    The cat(s) sit on my lap while I am on the toilet all year round. Oh my! – they used to do it in Scotland too where summer no longer exists. What does this mean? That it’s always Autumn on my quinta? I think I need to know. Please tell me!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: October 25th, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Dear Worried of Benfeita,
    what breed? Mine certainly insists on being in the bathroom if I am in there all year round… but clearly yours is something of a higher-grade sook. Siamese?

    [Reply to comment]

    Worried of Benfeita   Reply: October 25th, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Dear Emma,
    Thanks for your reply. Siamese? Ah no. Scottish Borders Mongrel Farm Cat. An altogether rarer breed, though one of them could be a clone of the ginger and white one sitting in your cat basket. I am definitely in the toilet all year round, on a daily basis even. Do you only go in Autumn? That does somewhat skew the results of your research if that’s the case.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: October 25th, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Dear Worried of Benfeita,
    well I certainly go more in Autumn than any other season. Interesting to note that Mao got onto The One’s lap this morning, much to his surprise. And yet here we are now at our computers, with ample lap to be had, and no cat. Worthy of scientific study, I should think. Try not to worry, I think it’s quite normal, a sign of love and devotion. We should be so honoured. 🙂

    [Reply to comment]

    Bamboozled of Benfeita   Reply: October 26th, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Dear Emma,
    You’re right. I have given up worrying. Seasons will be seasons. Cats will be cats. And cats will unerringly gravitate towards visitors who can’t stand cats and make a point of sitting on them. Personally I suspect the sitting-on-lap-while-on-toilet thing has a not dissimilar motivation, though it could just be that they have an irrepressibly scatological sense of humour. Or they prefer to sit on warm skin than cold denim (or whatever else it is that usually covers your legs). We could speculate ad nauseam …

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: October 26th, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Quite. Strong logic there on the warm skin theory. 🙂


  7. maryb October 25, 2010 10:00 am Reply

    mine always follows me in and insists on having her back scratched otherwise she’ll go for the flesh around my ankle !

    [Reply to comment]

  8. Jane October 25, 2010 6:59 pm Reply

    Hi Emma

    Just returned from a wonderful week in Coimbra and could not believe how warm and sunny it was. Back in England now and it is Sooooo cold.

    [Reply to comment]

  9. Marielys October 25, 2010 9:45 pm Reply

    I arrived in Lisbon last week and I enjoyed last week´s weather so much! We even spent a few hours on the beach 🙂 What a difference from belgian weather, its grey, cold and miserable brrrrrrrrr.

    Autumn in Portugal is wonderfull compared to the UK and other north european countries. How about castanhas assadas, Emma? They will warm you up :-). We’ve been to Seixal for the Jazz Festival…. it was great!This week we´ll be going to Senhor Vinho to listen to good fado, hoping the main singers will be there. This is what I love about Lisbon area … there’s always something to do. Oh and we went to pastéis de Belem the place was full with tourists and portuguese alike, but the service was quick and the pasteis were delicious, they are still the best pastéis de nata I ever had in my life. On Sunday we’ll be heading to the Fofinhos de Belas … I think we’ll be in need of new clothes by the time we go back to Brussels rsrsrsrs

    Cheers and take care 🙂

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: October 25th, 2010 at 10:23 pm


    [Reply to comment]

  10. tNb October 26, 2010 5:23 am Reply

    Sadly, I embraced pajamas the first year I moved here. We’re still quite toasty down here, although we finally lit the fire for the first time last night! Just started making soup … 😉

    Embrace winter! Consider it an opportunity to wear huge sweaters, ski on bunny slopes and wear and fabulous socks 🙂

    [Reply to comment]


  11. Ad October 26, 2010 8:23 am Reply

    There is no shame in wearing pyjamas! Personally, I think they can be quite stylish, and snuggling into my flannelette sheets wearing my flannelette pj’s on a chilly night… I wouldn’t have it any other way. And that’s in Bondi, where the winters are hardly brutal.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: October 26th, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    mmm. image of Ad in flannelette jammies. mmm. Naughty.

    [Reply to comment]

  12. Nuno H October 27, 2010 7:14 am Reply

    😀 Well, I live in England and I am by far warmer here than in Portugal, as most of the places are not heated and I am from Porto. So, pajamas (pijamas) are compulsory, together with robes, socks, “pantufas” (those shearling-lined shoes to wear at home and terribly expensive to get in Serra da Estrela) and a sleeping bag. This was my classic “way of dressing” when at home in Portugal. Well, at xmas it will be back to it.

    A person once told me that he met a Siberian who said she had never been as cold as in Pt. Go figure…

    Who’s the black cat? It’s awesome! It looks like a black panther!

    [Reply to comment]

  13. Stephanie October 29, 2010 9:26 pm Reply

    Hi Emma-

    I think we’re kindred spirits, the only good thing about winter are the many ways to keep warm – certainly enjoyed the post!
    On another note, I’m the editor of Expat Arrivals.com (http://www.expatarrivals.com), a site devoted to developing comprehensive destination guides and I was hoping I could convince you to share some of your expat insight about Portugal – we’re constantly looking for contributors. On another note, would you be interested in adding a link back to our Expat Arrivals Portugal guide, I think some of our info would supplement your posts nicely. I look forward to hearing from you, thanks for your time!

    [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