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The Weather Thread #9

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Very strange weather down here. Last week we had a frost a month earlier than usual, it was very cold and we needed to light the fire. Bad time to discover that a rat had eaten through the hot air ducting so it didn't work! This morning it's 20C and set to rise to 24C with strong winds from the East, which is a direction we are not sheltered from. BBC says storms here in next few days, another unusual October event, so we'll see what happens?

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We have just had Depression Barbara, which was forecast red for wind and rain Mon/Tues, but we only got the rain, and I have seen much worse.  Came up from the South, and apparently Algarve badly hit.  Anyway, I went for a very brief stroll this morning as the rain has stopped.  The water is cascading down the hillside, there are mini-waterfalls all over the place, I suddenly understand why the tracks are like they are - exposed sandstone with a thin layer of gravelly sandstone on top.  Unfortunately the wind has blown a lot of gravel onto the road, all near us as we are on a flat ridge, so when it is dry I think we will try to move some of it.  Its very mild though.

 

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Our second frost, on time this time, is quite hard. Taken two hours to burn off with the sunshine and poo picking the runs had to be delayed because I couldn't see the poo. Maximum temperature will be 11C says the forecast, but the sunshine will make it feel warmer. The house temperature had dropped to 15.5C this morning and if it doesn't get to 16C the central heating will have to go on. Temperatures rise from Wednesday apparently and no rain due. Hopefully the grass will stop growing for a while.

I was surprised how many people there are down here from Scotland; we've met four since we moved. They must see a massive difference in the weather and daylight hours; far more than us from England. The biggest foreign group is Dutch, perhaps drawn here after visiting a local campsite called Le Haget; Dutch owned fairytale style chateau with an amazing collection of trees.

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We had the same as you this morning Beantree and I forgot to put my Geraniums by the old house for shelter from the frost but they look OK.

Our next door neighbours are Glaswegian and we have 4 Scottish friends in the village, I take delight when one of them says that it is raining or cold and have to remind them they are Scottish and are used to far worse. We also have 3 dutch friends, one is married to an American and the other couple are second marriages and they decided on a fresh start in a new country.

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We are enjoying a fabulous fortnight.  On Thursday it was so hot I had to wear shorts and T shirt, about 24 I think, but really warm feeling, all of the air was positively balmy.  We have been olive picking on and off over the last week, and today it was crisp and bright sun.  It couldn't have been more lovely, in a quiet valley, next to a rushing stream.  I know I have said it before, but autumn in this part of Portugal is usually the best season of the year, in my view, normally November is my least favourite month but here it is a pleasure with huge blue skies, sun and warmth without the scorchio temperatures.

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No more frosts at the moment but we've had the central heating on early and for two weeks now. It's miserable down here having rained continuously for two days and another 5 days forecast. Temperature is fairly stable at 8C but the strong West winds are bitterly cold. Can't remember getting cold and rain together? It's normally cold and very dry or warm and wet. Seems the jet stream is in an unusual position dragging rain systems in from the West and cold air from the North. Possibility of thunderstorms later which is again unusual for December. Once again glad we bought a place with land that slopes a bit because the flat bits I can see in the distance are just swamp already, so they may be flooded in a few days? 

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We are sharing your weather, Beantree.  The rain isn't incessant but the cloud is low (or is it mist and fog?) and that westerly wind is both very strong (we are in a yellow weather warning, its howling around) and very cold (I am in a long woolly cardy over a dress over trousers).  We don't have central heating, but the fire is a french style insert, and works a treat as long as you don't leave the sitting room!  

On the plus side, we have seen several rainbows today.  The first one ended over a house in the local village and one this afternoon ended in our neighbours garden😀

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Following up on the previous post, yesterday we went for a walk and found 3 pine saplings down across our road (at 11am, nobody had passed by!) which we managed to get off the road and into a ditch.  The wind has gone, but its much colder now.

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We had a bit of a gust yesterday Daphne. Without any warning it took one of the bantams on the roof of the run completely by surprise and blew her over the coop and out of the enclosure. Fortunately, because they are such good flyers I suppose, she landed safely and was uninjured, although clearly shocked. We're due very strong winds with rain tomorrow so we've added another panel of windbreak debris netting on the West side of the Cou-Nu's enclosure. They now have all of the West side and half of the North side protected as the location is so exposed, otherwise they would have to be in the coop to escape the wind because the leaves have now dropped off the bushes that previously protected them.

I was only saying yesterday that without central heating this place would be very difficult to heat. It's a 'long house' as they call them, so it started 250 years ago as a small house and was extended in one direction progressively over the years. So the original fire place at one end now houses the cooker and a 'new' fire (Dutch owners 25 years ago) has been added centrally with air ducting to take the heat to the ends of the building. It would work, but the fire would have to be on all day and that means moving a lot of wood! I suppose that's why the Dutch later added the central heating. Quite how the original French owners managed in Winter I don't know?

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There are a lot of houses in this area  without central heating @Beantree, luckily we have gas and an 11kw pellet stove which we upgraded this year. One of our clients telephoned a couple of winters ago after buying in the summer and asked us to nip over to their house and put the heating on low to keep the house warm, we had to tell them that the only heating was 2 woodburners, apparently it had never occurred to them to check if the house had heating as it was hot summer when they purchased. We are key holders for approx 10 houses and only 2 of them have central heating, the rest are woodburners. It seems swimming pools are more important as they all have these.

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There are few pools here Ursula123; we had to add ours, which was easy enough (€35 from GiFi). Our Dutch friends down the road heat their huge place with two wood burners and 20 m3 of oak, which is an awful amount lot to stack and move. They had the central heating pipework in place when they bought it, but no boiler or radiators, which will be €10K just for the materials, so it's well down their needs list. They had a GiFi pool, but when the cat climbed up it and it burst they didn't replace it, but did kindly give us the pump and filter.

You should be able to drain the water systems over Winter quite easily, but I suppose the most important thing is just to turn the water supply off and leave them the contact details for a plumber just in case we have another freezing cold one. I can understand someone 'straight off the boat' not realising most houses haven't got central heating because nearly all have in the UK. We only had ours on for two months last year, so it is really a 'luxury' item and we dread having to eventually completely replace the oil boiler.

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First really cold night coming up. Forecast to be -4 here tonight so the two Dutch bantams who usually sleep on perches in the run (Crackle and Pop) have been unceremoniously posted into the house through the egg port and I’ve shut the Cube door. Must remember to open them up in the morning!

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Said on the news yesterday that 2020 was the warmest year in France since 1900. Can't say we really noticed that, because although we had a 9 week drought we didn't get temperatures over 40C. We've had a fair bit of rain with some areas flooded. The nearly parallel sided bucket I use as a gauge collected 8" in two days. Due now for a colder spell, so frosts for a week which is unusual.

I mentioned central heating previously. A rather cold Christmas day and we had no hot water or heating because the boiler had packed up. Fortunately it wasn't too serious and could be repaired temporarily. Parts were eventually ordered due to a failure in the local internet network, which will now be erratic whilst repairs are done until the 6th now, although the date keeps moving back, so if I don't post for a while you know why. 

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Oh no Beany!  I hope you are able to get it fixed soon!

Minus 2 here this morning.  Cloudy now and not feeling as cold.  Yesterday had to bucket water in relays to the ducks as the hose was frozen.  Hurt my throat as I was breathing through my mouth (old habit formed from a lifetime of hayfever) and with a scarf around my nose and mouth!  Today the water dribbled out the hose and soon it washed any frozen bits away and the ducks have fresh water in all their pools!  Chickens are happy in the barn, although at midday their water had a touch of ice on one of their drinkers.  It was fine this morning and fine now.  Weird!  I'm waiting for the Beast from the North or East as we got off lightly last year!

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