Portugal return

In Cahoots

Monkey dystopia

Amazing things have been happening to me, in that doors have opened as my mind and soul have healed and rejuvenated, I didn’t realise how broken I was when I first left the UK after nearly 25 years working in Corporate IT. All my passion, motivation and enthusiasm had been slapped down so many times I had lost my way and with it any excitement I once felt for the art of Information Systems design.

It all started with watching ‘The Social Dilemma’ on Netflix, despondent and overwhelmed by its contents I starting researching the Centre for Humane Technology, which was advocated at the end of the documentary. I stumbled across their Principles of Design only to be hit by a thunderbolt. This was exactly what me and a colleague wrote about in 1997. Yes fucking 1997 – what the actual!!!

Back in ’97 I was just finishing my degree in Systems Analysis and worked with a fantastic group of inspiring women. Through our research and studies we came to realise the importance of people- centred approaches to Information systems development. My colleague and me decided to devize a framework called People-Centred Information Systems Design’ or as it was affectionately called ‘taking the PISD approach’. We were sick of the while male western world perspective to design and were honoured to present our paper at 2 conferences EthiComp98 – Ethics in Computing in Rotterdam and Women in Computing at DeMonfort University in Leicester.

I no longer had a copy of my paper so did some digging around in the web. I found an extract of it on the Southern Connecticut State University – Research Centre on Values in Emerging Science and Technology, but was unable to get the complete paper. I then tried the Ethicomp conference site and lo and behold got hold of a copy. I was also asked if I would be interested in participating in the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility – I said Bring it On!

Indeed.

It was the biggest lightbulb moment ever! I had forgotten what an amazing raging radical feminist I was, and in fact still am. All the knowledge, skills, experience and time that I had invested in the IT arena flooded into me and reminded me – I am a clever bitch and NOW is the time to use it. Fuck the big tech companies, there is a better way,

At the same time I was being asked by new contacts, could I do this, could I do that, for them to get online. My wonderful Mother connected my up with someone wanting a website and so it began…

I’m now looking at setting up a collaboration of women (mainly) to work on a variety of IT projects and so InCahoots was born.

There is more to come and you will be the first to know…..

Finding my way

The last month has been so busy. I have been finding my feet and working out what is possible in this new world of ours. Watching the events unfold in the UK is slightly surreal, from the Burgau bubble.

Manhunha has moved onto to his new Swiss owners, Marlise and Anthony, a lovely Swiss couple. He has upgraded his accommodation to a lovely villa with beautiful grounds and air-conditioning! I feel good to know I have done a good thing in helping him recover and move onto a new home. I don’t miss him taking all my air in Gurty at night, but having him to talk to made me less of the crazy woman.

Now I have Gurty back to myself, she has been getting some Gurty love. New lights at the back and I’ve moved back into my bed in the cab, rather than at the back of Gurty as the weather is cooling to 25 degrees. There is a constant battle with the mozzies and flies, but at least the ants have admitted defeat.

I have found a contact who repairs / upgrades to motorhomes, so now am planning what needs to be done and in what order. On the list is:

  • More solar power, now the days are getting shorter there is less daylight and therefore less power, and I need to keep my wine cool!
  • Update the habitation electrics
  • A number of small repairs to keep Gurty in tiptop shape
    • Repair watertank lid / electrics
    • new hob – maybe
    • New taps in kitchen area and bathroom

Mechanically she is perfect, she starts first time and purrs when I take her out for day trips

I have spent the last 3 weeks house-sitting for Jutta, whilst she went back to Hamburg to visit family and friends. Sleeping in the house with the dogs meant I was sharing my bed and air with the hounds again, but we were all glad of the peace and quiet, now the Manhunha had gone. We had our first rain since February which was very welcome as it means less watering of the garden for me.

I have had the privilege of going to a couple of live gigs, with a very small audience and definitely NO DANCING / NO SINGING!!

There have been further restrictions introduced in Portugal, meaning bars have to close early and alcohol is only served with food. So no more gigs for a while but it was lovely while it lasted.

Things I’ve learnt anew

Hanging around

Coming back to Burgau has given me the chance to assimilate further local knowledge.

  • There is a lot of wildlife here – especially the small sort.
    • Mosquitoes use me as a buffet bar and there is nothing worse than the sound of buzzzzzzz buzzzzzz in the middle of the night. I’ve now installed a mozzie net over my bed and the mornings are like a wildlife show trying to identify the bugs caught.
    • Teeny tiny ants are well organised militants who are basically a nose on legs. I watched them form a line along the outside of Gurty, up onto the roof and through the skylight heading directly for my chocolate biscuits well hidden in a cupboard. it was Antmeggedon.
    • Lizards and snakes move fast, I haven’t been able to capture a picture of a snake cos they move faster than I run.
  • Socially distanced music nights are challenging. If you are sat down inside no mask required, stand up and mask must be worn. Tables must be booked in advance – and no moving between tables to say hi to friends. Only music being played is slow blues by a lovely couple of sisters called Josephine and Catherine, but nothing too fast as no dancing or singing. Thank goodness I have my dancefloor in Gurty for my morning boogie
  • Kevin is the name used by Germans for a posh man! I have never heard of a posh man called Kevin, so there you go. We keep up with the Joneses, Germans have to keep up with Kevin.
  • I am learning German and Portuguese. My additional German vocabulary is mostly swearing -Arschloch!! for drivers / tourists, or terms of endearments for dogs – Süßer kleiner Mann.
  • Gardening in 30 degree heat is sweaty, but worthwhile. We now have growing: melons, peppers, tomatoes, passion fruit and figs. Delicious!
  • The charity shop has amazing English books and I sure go for an eclectic mix from Boadicea to Stephen Fry to disserations on Women Rage – all good educational stuff in their own way.
  • People are really friendly especially when you start the conversation with “Do you want a dog?” We have been taking Mahunha on a tour of places to show off his assets and advertise his availability. Which is how I ended up at a pop up cafe at a Sculptor’s property doing my best Salesperson’s act.

Settling in nicely

Mwah to all

Here I am happily ensconced in Burgau, my home for the foreseeable future due to travel restrictions within Portugal. The GNR are hot on the case of Motorhome park-ups, having issed over 300 fines to campers parked near to beaches or within the National Park. This is the whole of the West coast from Sines and along to Burgau.

Social caring is in place and Face masks are required for indoor shops and bars, of which only a few are open. Even though it is the height of the tourist season, it is fairly quiet and the poor Portuguese children have to wear face masks on their return to school. There are very few Motorhomes around and these are mainly Portuguese or Spanish. I’ve only seen 2 GB plates so far, and they both looked like they had been here a while!

It is almost like a tourist season now, as it is the school holidays. Grockles appear, driving erratically in their hire cars, stopping in the middle of the road and zooming around like they own the place -:).

I have been busy looking for a new home for Manhunha as he is now almost fully recovered from his operation. We have taken him to local shops, bars and markets to show him off and get the word out that he needs a new home. Much as I love him, he needs a house to live in not a motorhome and he gets distressed if left in Gurty – howling at the moon and anything else!

I was very happy the other day when weighing myself with Manhunha to see how heavy he was. I weighed in at 65 kilos – result I thought, until I tried again and the real weight was revealed – 73 kg. Still not bad for an old bird! Being back in my natural surroundings in the heat of the summer, its spicy veg and fresh fruit on the menu – with a smattering of garlic prawns washed down with a chilled white wine – splendiferous.

Jutta has been showing me around the local area and we have spent some lovely times at different beaches from Cabelhas to Carrapatiera, and leisurely afternoons strolling around Lagos and Burgau.

I have also spent time caught up with my friends Alex and Bee, who I got to know on my last tour, and have the possibility of another place to park up whenever I want. Its good to start making some friends who have been in the area for a while, especially when we are all Women of a Certain Age so have a right laff!

Finally I have been investigating getting Portuguese residency and will be sorting this out in the next couple of weeks. Enough of Bollox Brexit.

Careful what you wish for

Look into my eyes

I landed in Portugal as the sun was setting and I was greeted by the heat and my lovely taxi driver. We put the world to rights on the journey back to Burgau, both agreeing that the only way out of this mess is peaceful direct action revolution. Up the workers!!!!!

It was dark when I finally arrived to my one true love – Gurty. I soon slept to awake to the glorious sunrise and took a deep breath of the clear fresh air. The first two days were spent acclimatising to the 34 degree heat. I soon realised I would need to sleep in my lower deck rather than my drop-down bed, which turned into a breathless sweatpit. Lying spreadeagled on the rear bed with all possible windows and draughts aligned I slept deeply.

It has been easy slipping back into Portuguese life and we heaed off to Cadela Carlota & Companhia rescue centre to walk some stray dogs as I had previously. This time was a bit different, due to the little munchkin above.

The day before Jutta and I had taken one of her dogs (Foxy) to the local vet as he had a cough. We bumped into Ludo, one of the owners from Cadela, who was there with a dog to be checked out. This poor mite had been on the streets of Lagos for 6 months after his Russian owner died. He was a bag of bones and you could feel all his ribs and spine. Once picked up, the dog (Manhunha) was checked over by the vets, who discovered he had a cyst on his spleen and he needed surgery as soon as possible.

So we arrive at the rescue centre to hear the most heart-breaking cries of Manhunha, alone in a kennel. Chatting to the workers there it transpired they were looking for a Foster home for him. Oh and did we know anyone who could help? The next thing i know we have bundled him into Juttas car and he has been convalescing with us ever since.

Well I say us, he actually is residing in Gurty and living the life of Riley, It took me 3 days to remember his name and pronounce it properly, whilst hand feeding him chicken. He then had his operation and then has been receiving more Gurty R&R. The intention is to look after him until he is well enough to be Adopted. Now I was thinking about getting a dog…..

Here I go again on my own

🎶Here I go again on my own! Going down the only road I've ever

In my absence the world has turned upside down and inside out. My ferry was cancelled, Portugal / Spain borders closed and flights restricted. All my plans for the summer working at Festivals in the UK with MyCause and Oxfam cancelled. Being so far from family was challenging and so I caught the last flight from Faro to Bristol at the end of March to enter the dystopian world that is the UK currently.

Four months later of sofa-surfing with family and friends and it was time to get back to Gurty. She has been parked up on Jutta’s land and well looked after. I landed back in Portugal on 16th July, this time as a solo adventurer.

Down the side

Needing some fresh air we drove until we found a stop over near Zambujeira do Mer. We stayed in the area for over a week, breathing the smell of eucalyptus, pine and sea. There were hikers everywhere along the Pilgrim route which heads North towards Santiago de Compestela in Spain or down to Faro. Neither of us felt the urge to be a sheep and follow the gourd. Instead we had many gentle strolls watching hikers with unfeasibly large backpacks, some with sticks, some without hoiking themselves up and down some quite treacherous paths. Large signs warning of sensitive rocks made sure we kept our feet firmly on the path.

My mates on the hill

We stayed at Carvahal beach for 3 nights and saw the most unexpected of things and made new friends. Firstly on a walk we veered off the coast path to find Ostrichs, Llamas, Zebras, Bison and Deer all in the same enclosure, in what appeared to be a mini zoo.

Every morning we were there, one particular Stag would appear at the crest of the hill and call out to me (and only me obviously). As I am fluent in chicken, dog and cat, I thought I’d try my hand at Deer. Sure enough Vinnie (as I had now named him after the Costa Vincenta) responded and we soon had a good conversation going. I decided to get closer and take a few piccies, which did not come out as well as I expected. This was mainly due to a huge spider crawling out of the sleeve of my hoody as I was trying to take the photos. I think the whole of Portugal heard me scream! I’m just glad no-one could see me frantically pull my clothes off checking for more spiders – I’m hoping the spider was more frightened than me because I didn’t see it again!

Just call me Rachel!

Image result for rachel friends

On our last night at Carvahal beach, while Sharon was cooking up a storm in Gurty, a face poked round the corner. A guy asked if he could take a picture of my bike, because he loves Kona’s and knows the people in Canada who design them. What’s a girl to say, but of course. As you all know I love my bike, she makes me very happy.

Simon explained he was Canadian, recently had a cancer scare and so decided to give up the rat race and go on cycling adventures. He was cycling from Lisbon to Lagos over a week to meet up with some friends and gave me his card, which had ‘laughalot_fun – bike mechanic’ on it. Never one to miss an opportunity I got him to give a quick service to my bike, whilst initiating him in the ways of Bristle. I told him about Gurty and why she was so called, but I think things got lost in translation when I later looked on his Insta account to find his version of events:

So Kona is my brand. When I am not riding my custom Naked, I’m riding a Kona. The engineers at Kona are true innovators and the management and staff keep it real by provide some of the best bikes in the industry. And best, they back their bikes and keep you riding.
The fantacism of Kona owners never ceases to amaze me. Enter Rachel on a remote Portuguese beach and her cinder cone, Gert Lush (Bristolian for rather nice). Seeing the Kona, I introduced my self, handed Rachel my card and was greeted with “your a bike mechanic?” She told me about her first Kona (stolen), how much she loved Gert Lush and the joys her Kona had given her. I gave Gert a complimentary tune, Rachel some advice (replace that chain asap) and was on my wonderful way. Thanks Kona. You rock!
#konabikes#konacindercone#unitedbicycleinstitute

Funniest thing is, I do remember a phase when I was about 10 or 11 of telling everyone my name was Rachel and wouldn’t answer to anything else. Funny how things come back around!

Ode de sexy – a town of two halves

Is it Bert or Ernie?

Time for a few days on a campsite for our usual ablutions and top-ups. There was a site cat we affectionately named ‘Big Balls’ who worked the campsite looking for unsuspecting humans. He soon sussed out the only thing on offer from us was spicy veg and quickly moved onto the next bunch of suckers! – Spice up your veg, every boy every girl, Spice up your veg, wooo hoooo

Lidled up our cupboards and off we went, down the coast to the next beach and town of two halfs – Odeceixe. 3km inland was a small town and further down Praia de Oxeciexe.

Exploring the town, we found it a bit strange as the local Indian restaurant workers seemed to have a day off and kept popping up from alley ways and lanes asking if they could take photos of us, if we had any children and how old were we? Fortunately for them we made it clear, we were definitely not looking to get married and no we didn’t want any more children. Still the town was charming.

We then followed the surfers – which seems a bit of a theme, to the beach for a couple of days. Biggest trauma we had, was me leaving my trainers outside Gurty, and then driving off forgetting what I’d done. The next morning, we re-traced our steps and some lovely person had left my trainers on top of a fence in the car park – phew I love my trainers!