welcome to emmas housethought

two of a kind

I’d resigned myself to my solteirona1 status long ago. And I was comfortable with my ambiguity, my cats and my dressing gown. I would sail this ship alone, feeling already whole, not ever having known loneliness, for the world is a constant box of surprises, and adventure is always ready for those who know where to look.


I have loved, after all, and I have been loved. But we are creatures of habit, and I confess I am a Bolter2. I do have a heart, but it is a refugee from frontline action.

After a long time, I knew that the only way love could try to take me in was if it clubbed me over the back of the head and dragged me off unconscious into the cave. Love Chooses You, I often claimed. Like Malkovich’s excuse from Dangerous Liaisons “It’s beyond my control”. That’s the only love I’d settle for. Unquestionable. Definite. Certain.


If one was ever looking for husband, I could tell you how not to go about it. When I first arrived in Cú de Judas my mother asked wistfully “Is there anyone nice3?”. “Mother”, I replied, “I did not find anyone nice in a dynamic city of three-and-a-half million, or another cosmopolitan city of four-and-a-half million, so the chance of me finding anyone nice in a backward village of 20 is unlikely.”

And-But, if I ever had a list of qualities most desirable in a husband, “Surprise” would surely come before #2, A Sense of Humour, #3. Intelligence and #4. Beauty. And there it is.


We met only a year ago, and I was first struck by his number four. He was with someone. Next lunch I was with someone, but the third lunch “to talk shop” he made a reservation. As a woman of the world I knew that this was a sign. Straight from Emma’s How to Flirt Basics4 I can also tell you that the ordering of anything with breasts5 in the dessert-title is a signal that you or your dining partner have other things on their mind.


Then suddenly we were engaged. We don’t know quite how this happened, but it was not on the agenda on the first date: How to make Piri-Piri was. Somewhere between dinner at his place and Great Whites Under 3 Euros it was All Decided and rings were on fingers. Of course, no one knew what to say. There had been no warning, no back story, no relationship, nothing really to explain it.


So I didn’t tell anyone for a while, except my Sister-in-Law who rather fortuitously came for a luxy weekend in Lisbon. Thus, a fab wedding dress was bought, from the only possible place, A Outra Face Da Lua. Vintage heaven. Thanks to them, their enthusiasm and their creative chutzpah, that I turned out like an angel. Can’t remember the shop assistant’s name who picked out the frocks, but he was a winner. Thanks.


Luxy Sister-in-Law put me onto the earrings. She has a nose for antique french jewellery and that night her blackberry brought me my chandelier fantasy. Unique, collectable, 1960’s pure glamour gluttony. Really expensive, naturally, so now they are going on ebay because we need firewood. But thank you Helena, Harlequin Market, Paddington, Sydney, for this wonderfully delicious decadence.


Well now the story turns a tad dull because the paperwork part of getting married is absurdly bureaucratic and somewhat unromantic. Dunno ’bout you folks but waiting in line at Registos for six hours does not make me smile. Cast aside one’s ideal Beach Wedding, Castle Wedding, City Wedding: my advice to young noivos6 would be just to find a cooperative and courteous Registo who understands the difference between Love and War. Seriously, I’d begun to think I’d mixed up the words for gun license and marriage licence. Or maybe arms trafficker. The paperwork went on and on, not at all unlike getting my visa: Bureaucrat Modus Operandus Page One: Stop the customer getting what they want. Never mind that the customer is a taxpaying Portuguese resident and therefore pays your wages, dumbass. Never mind this operation-marriage-invasion is costing the customer a small fortune which goes slap into the Portuguese economy direct from their mothers’ foreign bank account. And certainly never mind knowing the law, regulations or procedure – just make it up as you go along. Every Registo had its own special set of requirements, including the procurement of stamps from departments overseas who could not, did not, provide them. Over their dead body were we getting married. We went through five conselhos’ Registos but I single out Porto for being the worst. Rude beyond rude. Easily gets the prize for rudest Portuguese I have ever met. City of Porto, you lost our business. You suck.


Almost defeated and being threatened with Gretna Green by The One and His People, we re-visited the Registo of Lousã, where they employ human beings. Fernanda, god bless her, was excited for us. One small tweak to the paperwork (and even an apology from the Aussie embassy for a typo: an apology from a government employee? I nearly cried. God bless you too, Cristina) and we had Salazar’s approval. Oh the joy. We were free to be together. To be Us, We. Each One, of Two7. Wedded and Bedded.

By convenience, or just more serendipity, Lousã has an adorable palace hotel which I have a soft spot for. We coordinated dates between the Conservadora and The Mélia. Wedding, Honeymoon, credit card, tick tick tick.


All I had left to panic about was that summer had turned into winter and my dress had been bought in July. So I dragged my flu-ridden self to Coimbra for a last minute thermal underwear mall attack, where Etam sorted me out with a sexy kit. Not recommended for Antarctic explorers, perhaps, but undergarmets nonetheless.

It’s all been a learning curve obviously, but did you know that a bride is required to submit to a hairdo rehearsal? This I never knew, and will never know. I went instead to a proper hairdresser who knew when the 1960s was, and she made me look like a glamourpuss in half an hour. Ana, Cabeleireiro Hair Studio, thank you, gorgeous work.


Now all I have to thank is two extraordinarily talented people, Tango, AtomicdogmA.com and Penfold, papersurfer.com who came to document the event, to give us some proof that we weren’t making the whole thing up. Are the pictures brilliant or what?


I’ve never wanted to get married. I have always disliked weddings. And I’m not sure I have believed in love for a long time. I certainly do not subscribe to the notion that “there is someone for everyone”. I absolutely refute that being a part of a couple is an ultimate goal of life.


But I believe that being happy is the meaning of life. And to love and be loved is our greatest, noblest ability. And now I also believe in chance, perhaps in fate and I believe that if this amazing stroke of luck can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

Thank you, meu querido marido.


1 old maid

2 Love in a Cold Climate

3 Potential suitor for settling down with

4 The book that comes after “My Life as a Peasant” and also after “Mary and Fred’s Guide to Cat Massage” but before “Great Toilets of the World”.

5 Burgo’s Seios De Noviça

6 engaged people, or bride/groom-to-be

7 as in, Seven of Nine, borg identity, Star Trek



  1. Ad December 1, 2010 9:30 am Reply

    Love well found. Wedding adventure well lived. Story well told. Hurray!

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  2. Jennie P December 1, 2010 9:38 am Reply

    Congratulations Emma!

    Fabulous account as always – best of luck!

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  3. Richard December 1, 2010 9:38 am Reply

    And may they live happily ever after! 🙂

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  4. Ben December 1, 2010 9:42 am Reply

    Wow. I read a LOT of blogs and yours is the first to bring a genuine tear to my eye. I had to read it twice.

    Our heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to you both.

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  5. Darryl December 1, 2010 9:44 am Reply

    Hi Emma, congratulations on your finding a decent man in this world.
    I have been following your blog constantly & never tire of your stories & adventures. You are my escape from this wonderful Sydney film industry.
    Love your work, keep it up & all the best of wishes for a happy married life.

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  6. John December 1, 2010 9:47 am Reply

    Beautiful, quite beautiful. I know you not Emma but your telling of your love has warmed the heart of one cranky middle aged Englishman. I wish you in your new life all the joy the world can offer. Congratulations

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  7. Jennifer December 1, 2010 9:48 am Reply

    Meus parabens! Wonderful news~Fab story~What’s next lovelies?
    Abracos e beijos
    Desde ‘verao’ Australia
    Jen xxx
    P.S Were Wookie e Mao e other gato part of the Wedding Party? Is it snowing there?

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  8. Joan December 1, 2010 9:52 am Reply

    Dear Emma

    Congratulations to your self and “the one”.
    May your love for each other endure.
    Live life well together.

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  9. Fiona December 1, 2010 9:55 am Reply

    WoW! I have goosebumps and it is 36 degrees here in Australia! Emma, congratulations! isn’t love grand?! I am so pleased for you – from someone who got unexpectantly hit by love at 19 and still together 32 years later, I can thoroughly recommend this thing called love! Enjoy!

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  10. Fiona December 1, 2010 9:55 am Reply

    WoW! I have goosebumps and it is 36 degrees here in Australia! Emma, congratulations! isn’t love grand?! I am so pleased for you – from someone who got unexpectedly hit by love at 19 and still together 32 years later, I can thoroughly recommend this thing called love! Enjoy!

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  11. Suzanne McDonald December 1, 2010 10:43 am Reply

    Hearty congratulations to you both. May you have many loving years together. I am looking forward to meeting both of you in March. Suzanne

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  12. Katharina December 1, 2010 10:50 am Reply

    Beautiful written Emma…..I could FEEL your heart and I got choked up. And you know that I’m not that sentimental usually. I am so happy for you and it gives me hope that there is someone out there for everyone….to quote you I have loved and have been loved – so can I do it again is the question I ask. Your beautiful story proves one can. Thank You!

    Wishing you the very best for the journey in front of you.

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  13. Celia December 1, 2010 10:57 am Reply

    CONGRATS, Emma! So happy for you and your hubby. Looks and sounds like you had a beautiful wedding at the Palacio da Lousã. Best wishes!

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  14. Mike Fabish December 1, 2010 11:04 am Reply

    Not enough pictures of cakes.

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  15. Helder December 1, 2010 11:52 am Reply


    (Although i am curious about Your husband – maybe we will learn more in coming blogs 🙂

    Wish You happiness and prosperity!

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  16. Maria Silva December 1, 2010 1:57 pm Reply

    Hi Emma,
    Congratulations! You’ve found love and you’re now happilly married ! Best wishes for a wonderful life together! We would love to see some photos ! Take care 🙂

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  17. Anna December 1, 2010 2:57 pm Reply

    Congratulations,I hope you & your husband all the best

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  18. Lauren December 1, 2010 4:32 pm Reply

    Huge congratulations – that’s so wonderful!

    I’ve been reading your blog for awhile (since my fiancee and I decided we really want to move to Portugal) and love your stories and gorgeous photos, though this is the first I’ve commented. However, this post was just so moving that I had to say something. I know what it’s like to feel marriage just isn’t your cup of tea, only to randomly find the most amazing person ever and decide to go for it. Glad we’re getting married over here first before we move though – thanks for the info. Best wishes towards a long, happy and lovely life together!

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  19. Memphis December 1, 2010 7:45 pm Reply

    Congrats Emma! I love love too.

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  20. Elisabete December 1, 2010 9:48 pm Reply

    Happiness is just around the corner!!! 😛 And when we least expect it to come up, we just bump into it. I wish you only the very best, Emma!!!
    Such a wonderful post!!! Your words are truly an inspiration.
    Thank you!!

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  21. Shirin December 1, 2010 10:05 pm Reply

    Nice story, well told. Parabéns to both of you. (Enjoyed the photos, too!)

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  22. Emma December 1, 2010 10:09 pm Reply

    “So I didn’t tell anyone for a while” You told us! Sorry we were too sick to join you on your day. Hope to meet soon for duck. xx

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  23. Ivana December 2, 2010 12:59 am Reply

    Dear Emma,

    Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    All the best to you and your marido.

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  24. Mike Coelho December 2, 2010 1:19 am Reply

    Congratulations Emma!

    I wish you all of the best and a lifetime full of love and happiness, 17 years, 5 houses, 4 states and 3 kids later- I can honestly tell you that despite all the ups and downs- sharing your life with someone who loves you unconditionally is life’s most precious gift. May all your days be filled with happiness together.

    Muitos parabens,


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  25. pilar December 2, 2010 1:38 am Reply

    I am so happy for you. All the best for both of you! (beautiful photos)

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  26. Wendy December 2, 2010 2:47 am Reply

    Hahahahaha!!! Brilliant! Congratulations to you both. Long live love!

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  27. Marielys December 2, 2010 3:12 am Reply

    Fabulous Emma! Congratulations and wishes of never ending love to both of you. I am not the only one who shed a tear reading your comments and seeing the photos 🙂

    You look beautiful and ever so happy! May you be happy for many, many years to come!

    I adore ” A outra face da lua” too, although i let myself be tempted by a dress from Ana Salazar from her Autumn/Winter collection.

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  28. Pamela December 2, 2010 3:15 am Reply

    Congratulations again, Emma. I wish you both all the happiness in the world.

    When I first saw the wedding photos I thought you looked truely wonderul but did not realise who you were, having only seen the photo of you in shorts on your blog.

    Have a wonderful life!

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  29. Vladimiro December 2, 2010 3:54 am Reply

    I don’t think I could express how much I relate to a lot of the things you wrote about, in the beginning of your post. Genderless I guess.
    The warmest of embraces for you both 🙂

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  30. Isabel December 2, 2010 8:07 am Reply

    Well, without rehearsal no nothing, you certainly seem to have married like pros! I do wish you the happiest of settling downs.

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  31. Eliane December 2, 2010 6:29 pm Reply

    long time no read, emma (our desperately slow line here in the southwest of ireland). que surpresa, meus parabens!!!! que fotos tao lindas! quando li o seu conto de fada ouvi um musiquinha dos anos 60 combinou muito bem com estas fotos maravilhosas.

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  32. Nuno H December 2, 2010 6:59 pm Reply


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  33. Wendy December 3, 2010 3:49 am Reply

    Hi Emma, Congratulations to you both may you live long an prosper. I have been married for almost 20 years now, with 2 children. Just remember that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Loved the photos too.

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  34. Papgena December 3, 2010 7:23 pm Reply

    Parabéns aos noivos!!! Muitas felicidades! 😀
    A noiva estava lindissima!
    The pictures are beautiful because the subjects irradiam happiness!
    So sorry for all that paper work. I married in Porto, in 2ª Conservatória and I had a good experience. Maybe we still are a little close to foreigners!

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  35. Agata December 3, 2010 11:28 pm Reply

    Congratulations to you both
    Home is where your heart is…love keeps you together.
    Best blog ever!

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  36. P. Silva December 4, 2010 2:28 am Reply

    Congratulations Emma, really happy for you guys :))

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  37. Sylvain Van Damme December 4, 2010 5:33 am Reply
  38. Cyril Wilson December 5, 2010 1:40 am Reply

    Tenacious the both of you, and, after touring those corridors of power (sic), to find a saviour, Fernanda, so close to home, splendid, as the bride, her gown and those soon to be fire-wood ear rings.
    Knew Mr Sp was bedazzled when he mentioned a lengthy engagement, obviously time stands still when you are in love.

    Best wishes Emma and Simon.

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  39. cara December 5, 2010 11:31 pm Reply

    wow, fantastic, cheers to big love and romance xxx

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  40. Dee Hawa December 6, 2010 9:18 am Reply

    Dear Emma,
    Just “filled up” with you wonderful news!! Absolutely beautiful
    photos, you looked radiant!! It’s strange to feel so much
    joy for someone you don’t know personally, but you have
    been able to weave a thread with so many, not just me.
    Your funny, observant and quite delightful, many, many congratuations to you and your new husband. Lots of happy years together. x
    Dee in southern spain
    soon up the road in Miranda do Corvo!

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  41. Gary Oaks December 6, 2010 11:30 am Reply

    Congratulations and best wishes to you both! Marriage is wonderful, I am now enjoying my fourth one!

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  42. Beth Jennings December 7, 2010 11:37 am Reply

    Emma, what a beautiful post and it was so lovely to drop in and see how you are doing so well. I love the running commentary with your dear mother’s wishful inserts. Portugal is really becoming an integral part of your life, oh wow! I wish I could have been there to cover your beautiful wedding for you. Best wishes, Beth

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  43. jane mcbennett December 10, 2010 1:03 am Reply

    It was wonderful checking your blog and finding this post. Many congratulations. Love the dress and the earrings and the setting.
    You look radiant and the writing and the photos are as good as always. Thanks for sharing your special day with us.


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  44. Lina December 11, 2010 5:26 am Reply

    Congratulations and Feliz Natal to you and your very handsome husband.

    As a native portuguese citizen who’s been living in the US for most of my life, I truly enjoy your perspectives on our culture. Thanks for bringing me the ‘experiences’ of Portugal.

    PS. Nice to have ‘met’ you on HHInternational.

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  45. Emma December 14, 2010 4:28 am Reply

    Well I’m overwhelmed. Thank you all very much for your well wishes and good hearted words. You do, of course, all merit an individual reply, but “thanks” 44 times might get a little boring. I would, however, like to single out Mike Fish for his very succinct and poignant response. I couldn’t agree more, Mike, but as it is, I’ve had more than a few private messages to which I have replied “NO, just FAT, thanks”. One may think that pictures have no calories, but only for those not holding the camera 🙂

    Now, what to write about next????

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  46. Jaime December 16, 2010 10:55 am Reply

    Congratulations Emma, Hope everyting goes for the best in your new life! And Feliz Natal!

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  47. Paulo Reis December 16, 2010 8:17 pm Reply

    Congratulations Emma , all the best for both . Just mould two pieces of clay and make one …

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  48. Hudson March 5, 2011 6:41 am Reply

    My brilliant fiance Lauren said it better than I could several posts above this one. Congratulations! (sorry it’s late, but I suffer from male pattern lateness…)

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  49. Donzilio July 23, 2013 6:17 am Reply

    I am happy for you both. It is always encouraging when things work out like this, it gives the rest of us hope. 🙂

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