It was a long hot summer here in Portugal and given that the intense heat left us with little opportunity to do much at all on our place, we decided to take the summer off and sit it out in more temperate climates. But, now we’re back and getting busy!
Our dream for this space here in Portugal is for it to develop slowly, allowing things to take shape organically. It’s partly to do with money – of course – but it’s mostly to do with wanting to know every inch of this place and to have been present on every step of the journey. So, we’ve been looking around at what we have and how we can fix things up using it. The most obvious thing we have lots of, is wood. We’re surrounded by forest… it’s not ours, but it is bursting with fallen trees, branches and logs that would otherwise rot if we didn’t take them away, so take them away we have been.
Firstly the access to our land from the house was previously gated with old bed springs that had gone rusty and didn’t open anyway so our first wood project was to make a much more appealing entrance. Off we headed into the woods to collect some suitable branches, as well as a branch from one of our own olive trees for posterity, and with a little measuring, sawing and hammering of a few nails, we now have a beautiful – if a little rustic – gateway to our land, and it was also the perfect project to get our 8-year-old daughter involved with, too.
The gate before.
This new gate has delighted us so much because the combination of this, as well as our neighbour’s donkey, pigs and goats currently grazing on part of our land, has meant that we have actually been inspired to start wandering down there to discover our olive grove. The animals are doing a great job of chomping down all the growth so that we can actually begin to see what we have, which appears to be maybe 20-30 olive trees and of course, the donkey is going to be instrumental in bringing our little orchard behind the house back to life. I have been picking a wheelbarrow of poo every day!
Another little use we have found for nice straight branches is curtain poles. It may not seem like much, but the addition of curtains to our sparse rooms is starting to make the place feel like home. A little sawing down to size and light sanding and hey presto, who needs to buy a curtain pole from China?
I hope you will take inspiration from our small woodwork projects and go and forage in a forest near you this weekend!
Alice Griffin is a writer who, along with her family, is slowly bringing back to life a cottage and 2 acres of land nestled in the Sao Mamede Natural Park, Portugal. Find out more about Little Loquat Farm on her website: www.alicegriffin.co.uk and Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/oneplacefitsall
Woodland Craft by Ben Law
Watch: Grow your own furniture
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