Monday, January 15, 2007

hats and trikes

dgym's new hat
Originally uploaded by orangebrompton.
I meant to post this before. We got awesome hats for Christmas (thanks aunty Mo & uncle Mark). Dgym's goes particularly well with the trike. Check it out.

The world's smelliest sausage

In exchange for our selection of English goodies we were sent away from Portugal with a selection of the region's finest sausages. These included some tasty Jewish alheira sausages, which like a lot of Portuguese food, were strongly flavoured but really nice (especially with olive oil and a little piri piri), and some blood sausages - which Dgym wasn't keen on but I quite liked.

The third type of sausage we took back with us was the "stomach full of ribs" - I don't know what its proper name is, but is exactly as it sounds - a pig's stomach stuffed with its ribs. In Portugal, as we observed and experienced on several occasions, they are not wasteful when it comes to pig-parts.

This is the sausage before boiling. It was dried out and quite hard. We'd had it since December, but these things keep for months.

The first step was to wrap it in foil

mmm, easter egg.

Boil in the foil for an hour and a half. They tend to cook with massive pans in Portugal, this was the biggest we had and it barely fit.

After an hour and a half of boiling, the sausage can be unwrapped. It has swollen up during cooking, and is now quite soft and squishy.
Another thing that happens during cooking is that it starts to stink. I mean really, really stink. I didn't really notice because I have a lousy sense of smell and I was working so close to it anyway, but Dgym started raising a few objections.

The stomach is just a container and doesn't actually get eaten - so now it's time to break it open to get at the ribs inside.


At this point, the ribs can be eaten - or they can be roasted for 20 minutes. I tried a few - they tasted OK, very strong as expected but not as gross as they look in the pictures. I then went with the roasting option and popped them in the oven.

Served up with roast potatoes and green beans (You have to eat some fairly bland food with these sausages to balance out the super-strong flavours), I only managed a couple more of the ribs before my tastebuds gave up and decided they couldn't take any more. By this point Dgym had left the building to get some non-sausagey air, and I had completely lost my appetite and was beginning to realise just how much the place stunk of sausages.

We have been trying to get rid of the smell for the last 24 hours which involved disposing of every last trace of the offending sausage, opening lots of windows, burning scented candles and baking a chocolate cake in the kitchen.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

What now?

Having seen quite a few countries last year and found that most of them have quite a few good things going for them, but still not finding the desire to actually live in any of them, we are not really any the wiser as to where we do want to live.

That's partly due to our changing requirements. We started out wanting somewhere nice and cheap where we could buy a really cheap house and live off the interest on our remaining savings. Which wouldn't be a lot, but in countries like Poland or Slovakia, it would keep us in dumplings.

Our requirements now are slightly different. We don't want a huge journey back to the UK to see our friends and families (we have decided that we don't like flying, and we only like ferries if they stay away from the Atlantic - Trains are fine though). We have tried out freelance coding over the internet, and had some success - this considerably increases our budget. We want somewhere nice and quiet where the dogs don't bark all night, and we want somewhere that people actually eat food (yes, Spain, we're looking at you). We also have really gone off cycling in flat places, it's really boring. So some hills or mountains would be great.

France is still on the list - we're looking at winter lets and will hopefully rent one for a month or so, just to see what things are like there. However, self employment is widely reputed to be extremely difficult and expensive in France, so we're not convinced about that one. It's also possible that we'll end up back in the UK. Who knows....

Anyway - whatever we decide, we've had a really cool year - we saw so many different places and had different and interesting experiences in each of them - it's a lot to take in and it's easy for any one of those experiences to get lost amongst all the others. We hope you've enjoyed following our journey, and please don't stop reading because we're not about to stop cycling.

What's next?

Among all the stuff we're hoping to do this year - finding a house, getting married, building up our games site as well as keeping the freelance work going, we will be doing some more cycling.

Our bikes will be coming with us to France, so we'll be doing a bit of exploring there - and we're hoping to do an End to End at some point this year. We're not quite sure when that will be, but you'll be hearing all about it.

Coming back.

All this happened nearly a month ago. We've just been very lazy and not actually got around to posting about it.

Well, we left Portugal after spending a final freezing cold night at the house (it was so cold in Portugal - we laugh now to think of all we said about having a nice mild winter in Portugal, especially given the recent weather in England). The next day, we booked a ferry from Santander to Plymouth, not wanting another three day drive so soon after the last one. We managed to squeeze the bike and the trike into the back of the car along with all the rest of our stuff, exchanged our piles of English goodies (we didn't stick around to see the full reaction, but we know the Wensleydale with cranberries went down well) for some local sausages, and said our goodbyes. We drove up the road and spent the night in Vinhais, in the same room we'd had on our last visit. The room was draughty but at least there was a heater, a warm bath and plenty of blankets - and no barking dogs to wake us up.

The next day we crossed back into Spain and, with still another day before our ferry was due to leave, we headed for Cervera, which to us will always be the place in Spain where we can get food. Again, we stayed in the same room as we had last time - the hostal is called El Resbalon and the lady who runs it is a real sweetie. Last time we stayed, she stole all my damp washing so she could dry and iron them. This time as we booked in, she very kindly turned the heating in our room right up - just as well as it was freezing cold and there was a fair bit of snow around. Once again, La Galeria restaurant did not disappoint and we had a lovely lunch on Sunday when we arrived, and again on Monday when we departed.

We drove to Santander on Monday afternoon and after a short while on the ferry discovered that our September crossing to Bilbao wasn't alone in being extremely choppy - the Atlantic is just a horrible ocean to travel upon. We took reclining seats instead of a cabin this time, and instead of having drunken howling idiots trying to ram down our door, we were just occasionally interrupted by a few snores. We also chatted to a nice expat couple who lived in eastern Spain and were coming back to visit the family. They'd bought a ruin out there a couple of years ago and were living outside it in their mobile home while it was being done up. They seemed quite happy with life abroad, although the house was taking a lot longer than they'd hoped.

The reclining seats were quite comfortable so we managed to get some sleep. It was a bit annoying there weren't any power sockets around as it's a 24 hour crossing, and our laptop batteries only last a few hours - so we ended up staggering (the crossing really was that bad) to the onboard shop, buying a stupidly expensive newspaper (nearly 2 quid), and trying to do a rather hard cryptic crossword.

We got into Plymouth on Tuesday evening and, having been unable to eat anything for 24 hours due to seasickness, we were both extremely hungry - so we headed straight for Honiton for fish & chips. I felt very strange standing still in the chippie, we'd been in motion for so long it just didn't seem right.

After a good feeding, we headed to my parents place in Dorset which is where we spent the next two weeks.