Count your blessings

By Jenny Grainer [email protected]

Jenny Grainer arrived in the Algarve to live, work and raise a family in 1968. She is a freelance writer and her book ‘Portugal and the Algarve Now and Then’ has sold more than 2,000 copies.

I’m actually enjoying this time of the year so far with things yet to look forward to. The weather is still relatively mild with some wonderful sunny moments and just enough rain to refresh the greenery.

Lots of activities have started up among those of us who live here and Christmassy items are starting to appear everywhere in the shops although street decorations will be noticeably scarcer as some local councils sensibly trim their budgets.

The new addition to the family. Photo: SUPPLIED.
The new addition to the family. Photo: SUPPLIED.

Many people have been living way beyond their means and not just here – so now it’s time to ‘Pay the Piper’ as the children’s story goes.

Sadly, a lot of people are facing up to unemployment but hopefully, with so many out of work, sense will prevail and the government will face up to the reality of the situation.

Putting prices up is pretty futile and a toll on the only decent road we have is sheer lunacy. There will be a general migration on to the EN125 which is pathetically inadequate to take it, causing more accidents to be dealt with by the already stretched to the limits emergency services.

It will also put off the few tourists who might still be thinking of heading our way, especially our neighbours in Spain. On the other hand, I wonder if strikes are really going to help things.

Turning to positive thinking perhaps, this is the time when some people, especially women, will be thinking of reverting to some of their or their mother’s old skills and a few home industries will start up again.

It’s probably time to dig out the old Singer sewing machine, which might help out the few shops that still stock fabric. Clothes always used to be made either at home or by a skilful lady to be found in every village or hamlet.

I wonder if they might even unearth a still functional knitting machine! Readymade was hardly ever seen in shops just a generation ago but wools, dress and crochet materials were everywhere.

Get charitable

For those of us who have a little surplus cash to spend in these difficult modern times, there are plenty of deserving charities needing help and there is a positive frenzy of local events on in aid of them.

I know that the children’s homes are hoping that Christmas gifts this year are practical items, and not toys, and high on the list would be to have a bill paid from the many they have to cope with every month.

Pirilampos in Albufeira would love someone to pay an instalment on the mini bus they have had to get on instalments to transport the children to and from school.

Lots of delightful home-made gifts are on sale at Christmas fairs also inexpensive arts and crafts and if you’re not buying them then you could be making and selling them and adding a few euros to the family budget.

I’m certainly going to some of the fairs because, in the past, I’ve bought lovely gifts for very reasonable prices and besides I too have a book to sell, Portugal and the Algarve Now and Then. Makes a lovely Christmas gift!

When I look around me at the modern life we live now and compare it with the poverty of the Algarvean people when I arrived over 40 years ago, I find it difficult sometimes to imagine the way things were – which is precisely why I wrote it all down before it slipped from my memory – like so many things do these days.

I’m also gearing up for my fourth Grand Variety Show this year in aid of the Bombeiros Voluntários de Lagoa. These men and women of the voluntary fire and emergency services need all the help they can get.

This year the show has a wonderful array of artists all giving their talents and time free to perform. Let’s hope it will be a sell-out again this year. It’s always a lot of fun and a great way to give to a cause, which one day may save your life or home.

We have unexpectedly acquired a new addition to the family. An email from a friend told us the rather sad story of a miniature poodle found in the Lagos dog pound.

Poor mite had been attacked by larger dogs and had been rushed off to a vet where she was fortunately taken care of and now needed a home – so as it was 11/11 the newly named Poppy came to join us.

She looks rather tattered at the moment but now that she’s settled in and eating well, I expect a great improvement soon, the wound is healing nicely and she already follows me everywhere, utterly devoted and nothing like Charlie our elderly (larger than Poppy), independent, snooty, king of the jungle but tolerant feline. He’s just ignoring this silly, nervous inconvenience.

As we approach Christmas and the thought of what it means, we need to count the blessings of life and not the miseries and let’s remember we are always on the receiving end when we are giving.