Still struggling with all the bureaucracy

news: Still struggling with all the bureaucracy

By Margaret Brown

Surrounded by lush green paddocks and waterlogged land makes for a cold house despite today’s blue sky and warm sunshine, but the birds of the air are rejoicing in their liberation.

Above the valley a pair of booted eagles was well into its pas de deux of courtship, rising on thermals wing tip to wing tip as they swooped and circled above a neighbouring villa – local to the area, their display has been an annual joy.

Here we have two robins, a pair of thrush and swallows hunting flies sky high, already feeding up in preparation for nesting and brooding once the weather settles down, should that ever happen.

A couple of days ago I was messing about one morning when something large and black flashed past my head and landed with a ‘plop’ on the house roof. A Muscovy duck peered down as it sat preening its feathers, strutted to and fro on large flat feet for a few minutes before lumbering off in a westerly direction.

Next morning two others arrived, landing in a most ungainly fashion to canoodle and chat before flying across to the wooden carport. Unable to stay in one place because the roof was slippery, both slithered down toward the lower edge and took off in a most undignified manner like overloaded cargo planes.

Nearly two months since the Boss sailed into the sunset and I am still struggling to comply with all the bureaucracy that comes when an estrangeiro dies in Portugal. Unbelievable and highly stressful, no doubt it is just as difficult in Britain, but language differences do not apply.

Despite having a middling grasp of Portuguese, once embroiled in their system my head has turned to wood and that with rampant woodworm, from which holes my brain exits in the form of sawdust.

The time must come when all is done and a facsimile of peace descends allowing one to sleep again. That being said I have received nothing but kindness from all who have to apply the rules dreamed up by faceless suits polishing the seat of government.

Although my neighbour’s elderly dog seems to have set up home with me since the arrival of an exuberant puppy next door, I feel the need of a dog of my own both for company and protection. Acting on the advice of friends, I have signed up for the Safety Residence Programme, a most excellent safety umbrella provided by the GNR (Guarda Nacional Republicana).

My property has been allotted a distinguishing number and grid reference, and also direct emergency telephone access plus the mobile ‘phone number of two Corporals and one Guarda from this specific branch of the police. It is a 24-hour service.

After inspecting the house, advice was given on how to make it more secure without spending a fortune and I was given a comprehensive booklet on how to use this service. A mobile patrol will visit at varying times, day or night and a general eye be kept on the area.

So much has been happening on a daily basis that there has been no opportunity for walking in the lovely wild country at the back of our plot, but I made time the other day. After two dry years, the valley stream is running again, clear pools and small weirs marking its progress via a river down to the sea.

No frogs were croaking among the reeds of a small Barragem nor small birds hiding among the dead rushes as in the past, but perhaps word will get around among the passerines of the foothills and they will return next spring.

On an escarpment above the bubbling watercourse, a carpet of petticoat narcissi lit up the early morning shadows cast by rising land, sunrise still too low to banish a light mist and touch of ground frost.

At this time of year, yellow is predominant with the egg yolk of gorse, acid yellow of oxalis and wild crysthansemums verging on pale orange.

Spiders had been busy weaving their silken traps close to the ground among the stones, each a work of art hung with dewdrops. All this overlaid by a pungent aroma of fox, unmistakable and more desirable to a calling vixen than any other smell found in the bush.

As if there were not enough to do at this time, I have bought myself a new (Windows 7) computer, my ancient XP finally having burped and expired due to overfeeding. Not enough that the hard drive was complete but a couple of gizmos on the motherboard were also declared to be full as an egg.

Having tailored the old system to suit a novice the new set up has me struggling. Lagos Computers did their best to make the changeover as simple as possible but the combination of ignorance and an ageing brain is beyond the comprehension of an expert.

Being of Portuguese manufacture and having “Tsunami” emblazoned on the front of the tower gave me pause to consider if I was doing the right thing, but it is only lack of expertise that comes between me and a delightful new machine.

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Margaret Brown is one of the Algarve Resident’s longest standing contributors and has lived in the Algarve for more than 20 years.