Please accept my sincere apologies for disappearing for over a year – it has been a horrible, devastating, hellish year that I would not wish on anyone.
Please be assured that I now feel recovered enough from this traumatic series of events to provide the service you deserve.
I do however feel that I owe you an explanation as well as an apology.
It all started with my husband Mike being killed in a tragic and awful accident on the 30th May 2021, my Annus Horribilis had begun.
Mike's Tragic Accident
Mike set off with the dogs for his usual Sunday morning walk at 0600, it was his day off and he would walk for miles with the dogs, often coming back late. He did intermittent fasting regularly so when lunch time came and went I was not too perturbed.
Shortly after lunch our big dog, Galgo, appeared at the door, Mike must be back I thought, and carried on working on my computer. After a while it dawned on me that our little dog, Spotty, had not come in as she usually did, I also did not hear Mike anywhere.
I went to look, no Mike, no Spotty. I went to the neighbour’s field where the horse was pegged in case he was there, but he was not and our lovely neighbour had not seen him.
That is when I started to panic. He would never leave the horse without moving her so she had food.
I phoned 112, the emergency number, they told me to call the local cops, gave me a number which did not work. The number was wrong on the website too, so I phoned again and got another number which worked.
The policeman arrived, it takes half an hour to get to us from town and when he heard the story, reinforced by my neighbour, he called the Bombeiros, who were fantastic.
Where did he go? They asked, I had no clue, Mike would walk for kilometers for fun, he would catch to bus into town and walk back over the mountain, refusing lifts. A distance of 18km.
I called his children to pray as I had an awful feeling of dread.
I was walking around with our big dog in the hope he would give us some lassie like clues, sadly he is not lassie. Then the police said they had found him – Is he okay? – the policeman confirmed he was so, relieved, I went back home and made supper expecting Mike at any moment. I phoned the kids to say he had been found and was OK.
A couple of hours passed and no Mike, maybe he was walking back, cross with me for sending out the search party.
It was dark when Galgo started barking and I went out to find the police man, a police lady, my doctor and one of the Bombeiros at the door.
‘I am sorry but your husband is dead’ my doctor said – they caught me as I collapsed.
The doctor wanted to me to go to hospital for care because of the shock, well that was not going to happen, I had the animals to care for and Spotty was missing, I had to be there if she came back.
Apparently Mike had walked about 5 to 6 km and on the way he met some fishermen who told him of a cave with a beautiful view.
It was in a very remote place where he had to cross a field with cows, calves and a bull. Sadly, the cows saw the dogs as a threat to their calves and attacked, killing him. They see dogs and small children as a danger to their calves I was told later.
Galgo had come back, Spotty had stayed, no food or water all day in the summer sun, scratching at Mike’s legs and chest in an attempt to wake him.
Spotty ran away from the rescuers, and was still missing. I could not sleep, but at 0100 I heard a noise, went outside to find a very tired and hungry puppy.
Lots of cuddles and tears later I managed a bit of a nap.
The field was so remote the policeman had to climb nearly a km up a hill to get signal, the only reason they spotted him, far down in the field was the red shirt he was wearing and a little white dog.
To add to the trauma, the Bombiero who came to the house with the doctor is also the undertaker – he proceeded to bully me into having the funeral 4 days later at 0830. His words were “If you want to say goodbye to your husband be at the hospital morgue at 0800 and 0830 at the cemetery in the parish”. I asked for another day and he only repeated his evil dictatorial words.
I got off lightly, he gave me a day before he attacked me. A friend of mine’s partner died in the hospital and she had not even got to the door before this poisonous creature was harassing her to organize the funeral.
How convenient when you are the only undertaker on the island, to have a job in the emergency services so you know who dies and when. A more unfeeling, merciless man would be difficult to meet.
Running the farm alone
I then faced with taking over the running of the farm alone – we had been struggling to manage with two of us, alone it is impossible.
Do not let anyone tell you that perma-culture and self sustaining is not the hardest life you can imagine, let alone those who say you can grow all the veg you need in half an hour a day. Those who say that are a con.
In addition, Mike’s pension was stopped, leaving me penniless, thank God I have amazing and generous family and friends. I will always be indebted to them.
Then my phones broke and the car broke twice, first the slave cylinders on the breaks which my dear brother fixed and the next was the battery, so I called the towing service to give me a start. In Portugal towing is part of your insurance, fabulous way of doing it.
Then I broke my arm. My own stupidity.
I had cleaned out the duck pond using my sailing boots, well sailing boots are good for water but have no traction on grass.
I heard the snap, felt the agony, and knew it was broken but had to finish feeding the ducks, chickens, ducklings, horse, dogs and cat before calling for help. I made a makeshift sling and carried on “single handed”.
I messaged my brother and sister to ask them to call the ambulance as I was feeling faint, they said they would come and fetch me. I recovered enough to call for an ambulance and here on the island they are excellent. My brother met the ambulance on the way down and came to the hospital.
I had to meet the ambulance on the road as they did not know where I lived, we do not have house of street numbers here, and we have a 100 meter driveway. I made it, after all my legs were okay and the pain had subsided a bit as long as I kept the arm still.
The x-rays confirmed the break, I had to go to Sao Miguel to have it reset. They wanted me to go the next morning but I had to arrange for the animals to be looked after. Thank goodness I have great neighbours and my brother and sister.
I drove myself to the airport, it was an interesting exercise but very doable as I have a good and forgiving car, which drives straight and is forgiving on the gear changes.
They reset my arm, excruciating agony, and sent me back but as the radius had broken about 4 cm below the wrist and as I was trying to cope, running the farm on my own it did not hold.
The dressing was too tight and the plaster cast was badly formed, pushing into my bruised and swollen arm, causing agony.
I was supposed to go for a checkup 2 weeks later, the day before they cancelled.
In agony I drove to the emergency room where they saw the deformed cast and tight bandages and put a new one on, the x-ray reveled the reset had not held with the half cast they gave me.
Now I needed a plate put in. They operated on Friday the 13th. I am not ‘stupid-stitious’ but they messed it up. Another 8 weeks of agony before they admitted that the ulna was now longer than the radius and that was causing the pain.
‘Come back in a year if you cannot use it and we will shorten the ulna’.
Well that is not going to happen, the story of the man with the table legs comes to mind. If the surgeon could not do a good job first time, what are the chances of him messing it up the second time.
It will never be right, I still cannot chop veg, keep dropping things and cannot carry much. Not the kind of outcome I had hoped for.
I find it difficult to understand why they cut the front of my wrist to put a plate round the back of the wrist. A friend had a similar op and they went in on the thumb side. Was it necessary to damage so much more tissue and go in where the nerves and blood vessels can get damaged. Makes no sense.
It also made it impossible to type for 4 months while it healed.
I had absolutely no energy, it was as if my mind and body shut down. I could not think, did the most ridiculous things, forgot just about everything and walked many extra miles because of it.
Feeding the animals, takes half an hour tops, but I would end up exhausted, it took 4 hours to recover.
I took whole food cooking to a new level, have you ever tried to chop veg with one hand? The floor was fed better than I was, so I put it whole into the pot and cooked it. Cabbage is not good done that way – outside overcooked, inside raw.
I bought the least expensive foods, meat as it is easy to cook and beef is inexpensive here, potatoes and sweet potatoes and things I could chomp raw.
Not the healthiest for a nutritionist but had no choice. I had to survive.
Slowly my brain started functioning again and I did not do so many stupid things and forget everything.
The garden took full advantage, the weeds were 2 meters high in places, between the trees in the food forests and the grass that grew there too, it became a jungle. If only Tarzan had arrived, I really could have put him to good use.
In the paddock the horse did her bit but I could not clean her hooves.
By the time the farrier arrived Poor Moose face was hobbling. She had fungus in her hooves and was much better after her nails were cut, but sadly, because I could not get the stones out the next time the farrier came, she had blisters. I felt awful, she is such a gentle animal and her poop is worth gold, I exchange it for fruit and veg with the friends who can do the growing, a great help in my survival.
She now gets her hooves cleaned every day, twice if it is raining because the mud picks up stones, and she sees the farrier regularly, the fungus is now gone and she is much happier.
I managed to get help from the State after my arm broke, Euro 189 a month, not much but it helped.
It took the UK pensions 11 months to start paying a portion of Mike’s pension, it is tiny but every bit helps. The social security adjusts their contribution so I still only get the Euro 189.
The estate is going to take a long time to wind up – we need Mike’s full birth certificate from South Africa, they said it would take a year … then lost the application. So typical. Now we need his parents identity numbers, no one has them. With the total lack of ability of the SA government services, it may never happen. I had to get all the documents back to SA to be translated into Portuguese by an official translator, authenticated by an Apostille and sent back. This cannot happen by courier as they get hijacked. Fortunately my sister-in-laws family came for a visit and could act as courier. Phew.
I could not start consulting as I could not manage with everything, could not type until my arm healed so it was impossible to give good service to clients.
I am now recovered enough and have the farm as under control as I can, at least I have some energy back but scything is still painful and I cannot do it for long. The car is giving trouble again, but that is what cars do.
I am truly sorry that I dropped out, but now know I can give my clients the service they deserve, you will hear and see a lot more from me with some exciting developments.
Thank you for still being there.