welcome to emmas housethought

no end in sight

What with penfold having the mumps, every timber yard gone camping, and mother and sister landing for a visit, there was nothing else to do but take a week off.

And a fine week of touring it was, not for the Portuguese in the same train carriage as mother and two daughters wept with laughter while mother played the The One’s hand of our seminal game of tricks and trumps. An impossible-to-explain-rooted-in-family-history moment that all reunions should be made of.


the living lounge hostel, lisbon and santa clara a velha, coimbra

Nothing hurts quite like going back to work after a break. The One and I failed to turn up on Monday and then spent Tuesday and Wednesday giving ourselves a collective hernia with things that were too hard and we did not have the energy nor strength to do. By Thursday we were both practically sick and stayed away. The next week though, with one woofer back on board, I managed to get a few things done: how excellent it is to have someone around who does everything in half the time I do.


pinhal do urso, central coast

And so to the subject of amateurs and expectations. Sometime I’ll draw up a list for the first time owner-builder-Portugal and probably beside the first number they’ll be don’t get disheartened when you find you can do only half the things you thought you could/would. Or make that a tenth. I am all bravo and força, sure, and if left alone I’ll do practically anything, but send in a few more experienced persons and watch my violet shrink. Not out of lack of guts you see, more out of the intelligence that they’ll be doing a better job and a good house is not a place for amateur crapola. Hear me humbled.


osso da baleia, whale bone beach, central portugal

Humbled again am I by the scale of tasks still ahead. We were meant to be moving in yesterday and there’s more to do than I can make a list of. This week I’m chucking everything I’ve got at it: we are camping out with the woofers and hitting it hard.


moreton bay fig in quinta das lagrimas, coimbra


alfama, lisboa

Indeed, the windows… loyal readers might remember a nicely popular post about the windows I bought and was/still am restoring. The update, two or what years later is that despite the project being lost some delicious windows and doors remain in the plan. The favourite Pombaline ones haven’t found a place yet, but the French ones that have been chosen for size are coming up a treat. Did anyone suggest using an angle grinder to strip them? Yes, like using a combine harvester to trim roses, but with a delicate feminine hand it is possible to achieve a brutal but satisfactory result. Mindblowingly quickly. Another thing about having 20 year old workers around: they don’t care for petty perfectionism, they just get on with one job to make way for the next. Once my attitude to getting a short film made: Don’t Make it Perfect – Just Get it Done. As for all that double glazing palaver: timber shutters and velvet curtains.


the toys going posh at the palacio de lousã

Anyway, I have about 37 windows and doors left over – if nothing else I’ll have the best greenhouse in the country.


  1. Geof Richards September 7, 2011 9:06 am Reply

    Hello Emma,
    With respect to “The One” you have become my muse. My “partner”, Lesley, and I have just purchased a little farm in Cerdal (Minho). We were walking the Camino and were taken by the landscape and possibilities of rejigging how one could engage life. There is more to the conversation but we are headed back at the end of Sept. to face the realities of our simple dream (daunting). Who knows, our paths may cross. More importantly keep your spirits high and keep on with your “enlightened” writing.
    Many Thanks and Cheers, Geof Richards, Canada

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: September 7th, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    wow geof, thanks. Daunting is an adventure!

    [Reply to comment]

    Ana Teresa   Reply: September 11th, 2011 at 4:29 am

    @Geof Richards, End of September in Minho??? Better be prepared for the cold and rain.
    But then again, if you’re from Canada, better bring some esquimo experience :))
    Best of lucks for your project

    [Reply to comment]

  2. Ana Teresa September 11, 2011 4:34 am Reply

    And Emma, I still remember your idea for the “double windows”.
    Timber shutters and velvet curtains (tweed curtains are also effective) are ok but I really, really loved that idea.
    Now I’ll have to wait for the greenhouse 🙂

    [Reply to comment]

  3. Aly September 13, 2011 8:25 pm Reply

    Now that’s my kind of fine dining – taking the toys with you – brilliant!!! hope they didn’t get butter on their noses 😉

    [Reply to comment]


  4. Denise Rousseau September 14, 2011 12:29 pm Reply

    Hi Emma,
    Your blog helped give us the gumption to buy a quinta in the
    Dão – a terraced granite hillside with panoramic view of the Serra de Estrela. We just broke ground this week on the renovation after two years of bureaucratic genuflection. Our story seems to be playing out in parallel with yours. Anyway, the weather this fall seems excellent for the vindimas and for house building. All the best on your project and if you ever want to commiserate with two Americanos come on over to Mangualde. It’s a bustling blue collar town with a restaurant that serves the best polvo in the Beira.

    [Reply to comment]

    Linda Cockburn   Reply: September 29th, 2011 at 3:16 am

    @Denise Rousseau, Hi Denise.Russ & I just bought in Alpedrinha.Selling our Wisconsin farmette to live in PT.
    Would like to hear your adventures and getting driver’s licenses,etc.It’s different for us Americanos.Our place in WI. is @ sellsunnyfarmwi.com.google and we can exchange email addresses there.He’s a eco-builder and I’m the org.grower. Thanks!
    Emma you’re a fine writer,thanks for taking the time to share!

    [Reply to comment]

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