WHICH BUILDERS TO USE – EXPATS OR PORTUGUESE?

STAGE 1 – GETTING A QUOTE

Which would you rather use, an English/French/German builder or  a  Portuguese? There’s a danger that we lapse into using stereotypes when making this choice, but is there any difference between nationalities?

Look closely – “U” could be in the Builders Arms…

I ask because we are waiting to have an extension built, along with other work. Having used builders in UK on different properties and having a background in the building industry I’ve found it an interesting process seeking quotes in Portugal. One expat blog advocated using Portuguese builders, seemingly based on a negative experience with a British builder and a positive experience with Portuguese company. Their advice to go with the Portuguese builder was reinforced when the UK builder wanted to leave a comment. According to the blogger “I couldn’t post his comment because the attitude and language was appalling”.

I wonder whether Google’s search suggestions are a contributory factor on stereotypical views of builders and sway peoples views…

There is clearly a big gap between client expectations and tradesman’s ability to deliver. Why? Could it be the language? Not English, nor Portuguese, but ‘Tradespeak’ – Tradesmen’s language, with a dash of tradesmen psychology. You have to be in the know to decipher the actual meaning.

Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/31434

Prepare to go through the whole gamut of emotions if you want a quote. This begins right from the start. “Tomorrow ok?”  invokes the response: ‘Wow, they are on the ball, how professional. We’ll  have it done in no time!’

However, as everyone knows, or should know, tomorrow never comes! And, quite often, neither does the tradesman.

You are disappointed, but make allowances – ‘it must be because they are busy and in demand’ or ‘they are probably dealing with an emergency’.

After a few days you start to wonder whether they are as professional as you first thought. So you ring them again, but have to leave a message. Irritating, but you excuse this because it probably confirms how ‘busy and in demand they are’.

So you wait another week before you ring again, but get the same result.

Another wait, another call, but the same result. By this time you have reached the limit of your patience – “useless _______ (insert your own expletive)” .

Time to start looking for a new quote. Perceived wisdom suggests that you get at least three quotes. So you have to go through that process three times, at least!

Occasionally though, you obtain a quote. Well done, you picked a good one! But beware! It could be the tradesman didn’t really want to do the work. Did you notice he was going to charge a fortune. Why?  To either put you off, or make a packet out of your deparate plight.

Next post,.. Stage 2 –Getting them to do the work.

I’d love to hear your views – please leave a comment below.

World Cup Winner 2018

Apologies to any non football fans reading this, but I wanted to mark an occasion because of three key events;

  • England scored six goals in a world cup match for the first time
  • Harry Kane became only the third England player to score a hat-trick at a World Cup!
  • Our friend’s daughter led the England and Panama teams out at the World Cup,

My friend Ravi entered his daughter Alysia into a competition run by KIA. There was a a total of 64 prizes to lead a team out in the 2018 World Cup in Russia spread throughout the world. They were amazed when Alysia actually won a place and she got the England/Panama gig!

Members of Brown’s Walking Football team (and WAG’s) were there (in Brown’s restaurant) to mark the event.

CLIMATE WARMING UP FOR A HEALTHY FIGHT?

Hands up those who have had an argument about the thermostat on the central heating? Come on, be honest! I know I have and it resulted in me moving 1500 miles to Portugal to avoid the frosty climate, both inside the house and outside! Well actually we both moved here, but I was going for a dramatic opening to this blog about perceived or apparent temperatures. Read on to the end to get my top tips for surviving the unexpected cold snaps. 

I was sat outside the local bar with a group of expat acquaintances and we were bemoaning the fact that it was cold, the temperature having gone down to 18 degrees! Admittedly I was wearing shorts and a ‘T’ shirt but I thought of myself as a ‘roughtie toughtie’ northerner, (north of England) and so used to lower temperatures. I remembered when we first moved to Portugal three years ago, I was struck by how wrapped up the locals were and particularly some of the expats, in 20-22 degrees. But now I was succumbing to the same ‘southern softness’, or so I thought. This was a serious situation, so I decided to investigate and turned up some interesting information, myths and a possible reason for feeling cold…

According to Dr Sweiss of the University of Chicago’s Cold Hands Clinic (cool name!), a recent development of sensitivity to cold could be a sign of significant medical issues, including thyroid diseases. However, there are simpler reasons that we all know or suspect; thinner people get colder than heavier people, older rather than younger individuals. Some surprising ones; married women generally handle the cold better! I always  thought it was mainly men that had to handle cold shoulders…

One of the myths about apparent temperature involves the concept of developing ‘thinner’ blood. Medical evidence suggests it is more likely due to a person’s tolerance to the cold weather changing, or perhaps to a loss of some “insulating” fat due.

The perception of cold begins when nerves in the skin send impulses to the brain about skin temperature. These impulses respond not only to the temperature of the skin, but also to the rate of change in skin temperature. Impulses arriving at the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain where reasoning occurs, generate information about how cold we feel. These combine with impulses arriving from the limbic system, responsible for our emotional state, to determine how miserably cold we feel. These feelings motivate us to perform certain behaviours, such as putting on more clothes, complaining about the weather, arguing about the thermostat!

Now some of us also may feel cold simply because of how others close to us look or are behaving, a phenomenon called “cold contagion”. It’s a bit like yawning – ever notice how they spread when someone starts yawning?  In one medical study, healthy volunteers felt colder if they were shown videos of actors pretending to be cold, than if the actors pretended to be warm. Now I can relate to this, remember me sitting outside the bar? Well one of the guys was continually complaining about the cold I was soon shivering and yawning!

SUNDANCE’S SURVIVAL SUGGESTIONS

  • Stop dieting, remember that fat is good for insulation.
  • Take a dip in the pool, even when the water gets down to 10 degrees. You’ll be glad of the warmer (although cool) air temperature when you get out!
  • Cycle to the bar. The exertion will warm you up and stop you complaining as soon as you get there. Wait a while before you start complaining.
  • Take control of your cerebral cortex – tell it you are just having one more beer.

FOOTNOTE: Most of us who are healthy but claim to feel cold may only have ourselves to blame. In today’s world, we rarely expose ourselves to cold. Instead, we spend money on expensive clothing to protect us from the lower temperatures and spend huge amounts warming our living and working spaces. This in turn may actually contribute to obesity as we are not using as much energy ‘stoking’ ourselves up. We’d probably all be much better off if we spent more time sitting outside the bar and being cold. But it might be a good idea to get some new friends who don’t continually complain about the weather!

Weather or Not – Health Benefits of Moving to a Warmer Climate

Apologies to Will…

One of the main reasons for people moving to Portugal is the health benefits of living in a warmer climate. As ‘Her Outdoors’ and I (Sundance) both suffer from different forms of arthritis, ailments and mood swings (I’m a self confessed SAD sufferer!) it was certainly a major factor in our decision to move here.

And what lovely weather we have had, up to mid February that is, when the first significant rain fell. At the time I was considering changing Angela’s nickname from ‘Her Outoors’ to ‘Raindancer’. (Mmm, Sundance and Raindancer, think we’ve got all bases covered there…)  As a gardener she was delighted when the rain did come.

So is there evidence of health benefits to be derived from living in a warmer (usually) climate, or are they just part of the Estate Agent’s hype? Personally, I have been fitter, more active and healthier since we moved to Portugal. However, these last three cold, wet months have had a negative effect on my health.  I’ve felt lethargic, more joint pain and been prone to changing moods. I wanted to know whether it was because of the weather, so here’s my take on my limited Google research.

One of the main benefits of a warmer climate is the increased exposure to the sun, which increases your body’s vitamin D levels. Vitamin D has been claimed to prevent cancer, provide higher energy levels, and keep your bones strong and healthy by helping your body absorb calcium.

Some of the comments I came across were; “Pain thresholds drop in colder weather”,  “cold, rainy days affect mood, “during colder weather people are less likely to be outside and get the exercise that normally helps keep arthritis pain in check.

A warmer climate will probably make you more motivated to exercise, or maybe just give you more get up and go! Motivation to exercise is certainly the case for me as I’ve taken up the Portuguese Triathlon; I swim in the pool most days, check the fridge to ensure I haven’t run out of beers and cycle to the local Bar when I have!

Joking aside, I have taken up playing football again. Or to be more specific, walking football (WF). The game is becoming increasingly popular with the over 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s both here in Portugal and  in the UK and! But here’s where the health benefits might be questionable, on a personal level. Since I started playing WF I’ve suffered: groin strains, a ruptured achilles tendon, a muscle tear and strained knee ligaments. But I keep playing. I clearly have a liking for pain, or maybe I just like to keep active!

We do lead a more active, outdoor life these days, largely due to the garden we are maintaining and developing. Any exercise is seen to be beneficial and apparently, improves memory and might even reduce the risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. It does this by increasing the necessary blood and oxygen the brain needs to function, which in turn create new, healthy cells. You just have to remember to get out in the garden each day!

Thinking of moving to a warmer climate?  My advice would be to do what works for you, but don’t just rely on the sunshine!

Greenhouse Construction

This is the result of a recent project – building a galvanised steel and polycarbonate sheet greenhouse. Originally intended for a xmas present for ‘Her Outdoors’ it took much longer to build than expected, mainly due to an injury sustained while playing walking football. Dangerous game!

Ask a question or leave a comment to let me know what you think of the greenhouse. Links to some of the materials bought from Leroy Merlin are provided below.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS

  • Hammer drill
  • Angle grinder
  • Metal hole punch
  • Riveter
  • Assorted hand tools
  • Driver

MATERIALS

Algarve Sunrise

We think we’ve been cheated. We have had over a week now with very little sun and not much in prospect in the next few days. Talking with friends, they are admitting to depression because of a lack of sun. I was wondering what I could do to bring some cheer to our friends and ourselves. Whilst looking through some old video material I’ve shot I found the solution. So here it is, enjoy!

Paderne Medieval Festival

Paderne is a typical village in the  Algarve. To celebrate the history of the area, Paderne turns back the clock to Medieval times for four days over the festive period.

Thousands of visitors are attracted to the old centre of Paderne, where there’s a Medieval  market, bars and stalls with delicious food, arts and crafts, exhibitions, musical performances, street theatre, a violent siege and a historical procession.

Where else can you travel back in time for the princely sum of a couple of euros!

High Flying Views

We’ve had the pleasure of a visit from Glenn, son of Sundance for a few days, complete with his new DJI Mavic quadcopter. Good flying conditions in the UK are a rare occasion, particularly in the winter months, but here in Portugal we are much more fortunate.

The week provided some excellent opportunities; the Vilamoura Regatta and the Loule Carnaval the most notable. However, such public events are subject to restrictions on flying drones and indeed there are plans to bring in more regulations to control this emerging industry.

Drone Rules and restrictions in PORTUGAL

  • Flight above 120 meters height
  • Within controlled airspace
  • Night flight (Sunset +25min till Sunrise -25min)
  • Beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight
  • Drone weight +25Kg
  • Over crowds (+12 persons).

No footage of the regatta or Carnival, but you can see some aerial footage of our garden…

 

 

 

 

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