Upgrading yesterday’s computer technology.jpg

Upgrading yesterday’s computer technology

Margaret Brown is one of The Resident’s longest standing contributors and has lived in the Algarve for more than 20 years. As well as Country Matters, she also writes Point of View every week.

WISHING TO upgrade to a laptop computer and having received an offer I could not refuse from our technical connection, now it is possible to travel anywhere and still keep in touch.

When we were children, the regular run from school to the local railway station five miles away was by pony cart.

The work we did on the school farm had remained unchanged in method for centuries and our clothing was changed once a week on a Sunday (barring accidents).

Primitive by modern standards, yet if we wrote home to our parents, the letters were there by the following morning.

With England’s current postal system in disarray and dissatisfied customers fighting over the bare bones, it seems that electronic exchange is more a necessity than a luxury.

So far so good but, having cut my teeth on an old PC then bought a later model and taken several months to understand the improved Windows XP, unravelling the intricacies of Vista home Premium is like visiting another planet.

The small print, superfluous information and blind alleys are not for the likes of me, yet must be mastered to justify the outlay.

After an hour using a touch pad instead of a mouse, to sit in front of my familiar desk top PC is like coming home.

Haven

Sitting outside in the sun looking across to the faraway hills drinking coffee with the Boss after a morning spent in a microchip fog, our hillside plot was a haven of birdsong and farmyard noises.

The local cockerel crowed of his conquests, a clucking hen announced the arrival of another egg and Ring Doves called non-stop.

For two days last week, a Golden Oriole sang but did not stay. Woodpeckers were hammering dead wood among the oak and almond trees, while sparrows with reproduction in mind bickered in a nearby Lantana bush.

All this and heaven too: until a stray remark about computers brought us back to earth.

Number two daughter had just gone home to the damp and chilly grey of a Lancashire February, her mind filled with thoughts of selling up and moving to Portugal.

After time spent at various estate agents, an hour searching for one affordable flat that took her eye and yearning after several others, common sense prevailed but not, I hope, for ever.

While over here, she cycled or walked to and from Lagos, as well as joining a friendly party of dedicated walkers on a four hour trek.

This reinforced her determination to live the dream: not among high rise apartment blocks but back among the hills.

Here, two of our neighbouring farmers continue to run herds of native cattle and grow their own feed, with plots of favas (broad beans) and other vegetables for home use.

Cultivation is by tractor but nearer to Odiáxere, two other quinteiros use only mule or donkey to pull their antiquated ploughs.

Without noise or pollution, these animals turn a beautiful furrow, burying the worn out grazing land with remarkable speed.

The mule also takes his owner into Lagos in a clapped out cart while the driver stands at the back to ease the load.

Both animal and cart are near the end of their useful life and when they go, apart from the gypsies, it looks to be the end of an era.

As for the donkey, we saw it newly born 18 months ago.

Despite her small stature, the little jenny is willing, obedient and does a full day’s work in harness, obviously having a happy relationship with the farmer.

Perhaps she will foal in a year or two but from the way agriculture is being sidelined, she may become part of history without leaving a replacement to carry on the good work.

Meanwhile, more electricity pylons continue to be erected across the hills behind our village causing speculation as to where they are going and why.

Two houses and Bridget Hicks’ animal sanctuary may well be blighted when the fourth and fifth are in position but, lit by the rising sun, these metal monstrosities have a kind of beauty when seen from a distance.

It will be a different matter once they are linked by power lines.

With the season of Lent now in its second week, practicing Christians will be reviewing the past year, overhauling their behaviour and with the help of private prayer and worship seek to do better in the months ahead.

Lasting until March 22, this festival recalls the 40 years during which the Old Testament Israelites were wandering in the desert: and the 40 days of fasting in the desert that preceded the ministry and Passion of Christ.

Immediately before Lent came the bacchanalian revels of Carnival with processions and high jinks that might otherwise be frowned upon.

It lasts for four days in Portugal, the highlight of which are the street parades famous for their themed tableaux, political satire, cross dressing and bare bodies wearing little else than goose pimples.

Youngsters wander the streets armed with bags of flour and raw eggs to throw at the passing crowd and ever the inventive ones, they have an even nastier variation in their armoury.

A week or so beforehand, eggs are buried in the ground and when nicely rotted are dug up ready to use.

Hopefully these disgusting mini bombs will burst while still in hand, especially if they are thin shelled!