My Darling Valentine

DSCF3801 No renewal of last year’s Valentine offer from one of Lisbon’s ladies of the night today. Hardly surprising, given that I am tied to my desk and just about manage to quickly run to the gym around lunch time these days. No stroll over Lisbon’s fish market this year.

Also no romantic candle light dinner today (we had that recently), no cards, no fresh flowers. I reserve the right to love the wife, light candles or fireworks, buy diamonds or flowers (hmm. more typically flowers actually) at any time of the year and not when the florists’ and restaurateur’s association tells me to.

Once a year would not nearly be enough anyway.

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Someone is Practising


Sorry, no post yesterday. First Typepad was down, then I was too busy. Here’s what I wanted to tell you:

Banksy remains my hero, but someone is practising in Lisbon.

Check this out
. Oh, and this one of course, too.

Time Travel


When we went to Lisbon recently, we were pretty excited just how much Lisbon might have changed in those 15-something years since we’ve last been there.

We should not have worried. Although there seems to be a little more prosperity, everything was pretty much as we remembered it. The men still go out in knitted jumpers, and the women still wear quilted coats. The people are still very much no-frills but very friendly, and the restaurants still serve a regular Portuguese meal as

a plate full of steaming greens, potatoes, and fish
. €10 still buys a kilo of wind-dried ham, or a bottle of Aquadente, or a little more buys you an entire meal.

It’s that no-frills approach to almost everything that we liked so much about Portugal, and we were very happy to find this hasn’t changed. I guess loosing that touch would be becoming more like Spain, which is of course

the last thing the Portuguese want

England vs Portugal

London Mela 2005

After visiting Lisbon’s Farmers’ Market recently, I checked out our very own local West Ealing Farmers’ Market.

It’s actually pretty good: a fishmonger who does more than just Cod, Haddock and Plaice. Several meat stalls with a variety of traditional meats, game, and poultry, 2 or 3 bread and cake vendors, flowers, fruits and vegetables, pickles, and much more. That’s pretty cool for a tiny Saturday market, but it can of course not compete at all with Lisbon’s gorgeous offerings.

We are not at a total loss, though. The women of West Ealing with the European, African, Asian and rest-of-the-world mix of London, can well compete with those of Lisbon, and certainly outshine that one particular lady with ease.

It’s a draw. England vs Portugal 1:1

The Offer

Lainmoral_1Suitable for the day, a true story about love:

I went to see the Market Halls in Lisbon last Saturday morning. Beautiful! Countless fruit and vegetable stalls in the centre, surrounded by the fish mongers (which don’t sell crustaceans), the sellers of crustaceans (who don’t do fish), those specialising in meat (pork and beef) and those focusing on poultry and rabbits, those selling spices and dried pulses, then those… ahhh… I guess you get the image.

Too bad West London is dominated by supermarkets. Anyway, the story goes on:

As I wander away from the market, head and eyes and ears full of scenes from the various fish mongers and butchers (which I watched a good deal), I stumble into a narrow, dark-ish, and pretty deserted street. Just one woman standing in front of a house, nobody else to be seen. Making a few steps into the street, I stop and notice the local businesses no longer focus on the eatable flesh. I have found the red light district. Before I can execute my u-turn, the lady approaches me with an offer for "making love."

What was she thinking? In no offence to anyone alive or dead, but she could definitively have been my mother. I guess she might need a career change, and I might have to dye my hair after all.



While we were enjoying s short break in Lisbon, spring has secretly arrived. Since the weather didn’t know about my desire to take a spring-time 2007 photo of my almond tree in bloom, and since it was decidedly not spring-time like with rain and drizzle all day yesterday, have 2006’s spring arrival photo instead.

It’s still the same almond tree in the foreground and rosemary bush behind, and I bet the buds could just be the same, too.

Washed and Ready to Go

Spinachbag This is not new: a stupid "As seen on TV" label on a food bag. Spinach, as seen on TV (we had Tomatoes some while ago). Frankly I’d prefer the "as seen in your garden" variant, but because I am a lazy modern city person, I admit to the occasional purchase of bagged food.

Bad, I know. V. bad.

I used to think they kill the bugs with gamma rays, but somebody else tells me they wash these salads in a chloride solution over ten times stronger than what is allowed in public swimming pools. The bag reads "washed in spring water," but I’d like to know what else was in that spring water?

Cost and ecology and flavour notwithstanding, how do they treat food to last well beyond its natural shelf life these days?

P.S. Heck what do I care? I am off for a long weekend is beautiful Lisbon. Ha! Jealous?