Home Alone, the sequel  

news: Home Alone, the sequel  

Monday November 7

We have never been particularly lucky with cars. We took our Renault 5 for its MOT this week, which it failed, in dramatic style. As the mechanic moved around the vehicle tutting and ticking, a low rumbling sound began, deep inside the engine. This was followed by some sporadic spluttering, a little hissing and then some extravagant boiling. Like a minor volcano, the car rattled and rocked, belching out clouds of steam and stalling spectacularly each time I was asked to move it forward. The engineer continued on professionally despite personal danger, asking me to switch indicators on and off, sound the horn and so on. As I peered through the cloud of vapour, dodging searing jets of scalding water, the mechanic handed me the fail sheet with a face as blank as a canvas. I thanked him profusely and erupted off into the sunset.

Wednesday November 9

Responding to Monday’s trauma, Martyn came over all mechanical today and decided to inspect the car. Before the inspection could begin, the car would need to be jump-started. Eagerly adopting the helpful assistant role, I leapt into the Renault to freewheel down to the truck in order for Martyn to connect the two batteries together. As I free-wheeled, the car gained considerable momentum surprisingly quickly. With a bit of deft footwork I slammed on the clutch enabling the cars to crash spectacularly, simultaneously splintering headlights from both cars and denting a bumper at the same time. During the collision I was aware of Martyn’s jaw dropping open in disbelief as he gaped incredulously, with the jump leads dangling limply in his hands.

Tuesday November 15

We now have one little piglet left who has the luxury of living until February. The last couple of piglets were killed this week at the ripe old age of three months. Amazingly, in this short time, they had reached a staggering 56 kilos with quite a lot of fat. I do feel a little sad about killing them so young, but we could not afford to continue feeding them even if we wanted to. They really are quite lively, playful animals. If anyone had the space and inclination to keep them as pets I would highly recommend them and might even provide them.

Thursday November 24

When we moved to Portugal, we ignored the advice of everyone who warned us against the idea of letting out our house in London. Three years later we have dealt with more infestations than we care to remember. We have heard the pitter-patter of baby mice, the rattle of cockroaches and Martyn has experienced the gentle nibbling of bed-bugs. On one particularly harrowing occasion, Martyn opened the cutlery drawer to find a frog sitting there! Undeterred, we have continued on recklessly, in the belief that things can only get better. Martyn is currently in London cleaning the house out after yet another infestation – it really is quite incredible how some people choose to live.

Fortuitously, my mother is moving home while Martyn is in London, so he has had the pleasure of visiting her on numerous occasions to help with the move. He has tuned in the television, plumbed in the washing machine, re-tuned the television, searched through boxes for missing items and re-tuned the television. The dutiful son-in-law. Every evening through gritted teeth, he updates me on the day’s events, leaving me with a longing feeling, wishing I were there to be a part of it all but alas, it is not to be, such is life.

Monday September 28

Martyn has only been away for four days and, as usual, disasters are occurring all around me. The Monchique rain is playing up again alternating from bright sunshine to torrential downpour repeatedly throughout the day. At best this can mean a soaking while walking the dogs, at worst it can result in a soaking while hanging out washing. Oh yes, it’s also washed away our drive.

I awoke yesterday morning to the sight of a completely destroyed pig house. Not a little bit of superficial damage, complete annihilation. Not happy with the complete destruction of her house, Eggs and piglet had also destroyed the electric fence, giving them access in and out of the goose terrace. Upon inspecting the damage, I was inspected in turn by Eggs (now a very big, strong pig) by means of a snout up my rear, lifting both of my legs off the ground. It quickly became apparent that Eggs was in season and any work would be completely impossible due to her somewhat aggressive style of making a pass. I scuttled out of her compound with her in hot pursuit, and had a horrible feeling of foreboding as I closed the flimsy gate behind me.

This morning’s awakening witnessed that the flimsy gate had been cast aside like balsa wood and Eggs and Buttercup (the piglet) were having a whale of a time digging up fresh earth and chasing geese all over the place.

At 10.30am two friends, Cos and Helen, the Monchique cavalry, arrived to help me undertake repairs and keep the nympho pig under control. Cos and Helen are both very practical, hands-on people and they are also very positive. As I flitted about with bits of wood they remained encouraging and supportive, making no negative comments as perfectly sound pieces of wood splintered into a dozen pieces. They said nothing as screws buckled before their very eyes, not even exchanging glances with one another. Saws twisted, screwdrivers seized and hammers flew dangerously through the air. While all this was going on around them, the two ladies worked away diligently and, by lunchtime, the whole place looked ship-shape again. Oh to be practical …