Category Archives: Health & Fitness

Desculpe, eu falo um pouco de português…

or…. Why Learning the Lingo is a good idea

After two years of having a house in Portugal, ‘Her Outdoors’ (my lovely wife Angela) wrote a blog on our different approaches to ‘Learning the Lingo’. A further two years on, I thought I’d update you on our progress. Or lack of it on my behalf. However, to use a gardening analogy, there are green shoots of hope, thanks to a new online course I have started. More of this later.

Why do you need to learn Portuguese when everyone in the Algarve speaks English, you may ask? The short answer is you don’t, but they don’t. Sadly, the majority of “estrangeiros/expats” don’t bother to learn the language. Not surprising, as some expats only have to enter a shop and they get a cheery “Hello Mr/Mrs English person.” It could be the shorts in winter, or the socks with sandals, or maybe it’s the look of panic on our faces as we silently practice our opening sentence?

From my experience, it seems that some Portuguese can speak English, but choose not to. This is something I’ve encountered in bars/restaurants, in the Camara (Town Hall) in the IMT (Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes – (equivalent to DVLA in UK) the Centro de Saude (Health Centre) and even the GNR (Police). The reason I was with the GNR? See my previous blog on Unwelcome Visitors.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.
If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

(Nelson Mandela – spoke two languages)

It has been in these ‘official’ situations that I have been rather embarrassed that I haven’t made much progress in learning Portuguese. After all, we are living in Portugal… and what do some Brits say about foreigners in UK…? What I have learned, is that starting with a few words of apology for my limited Portuguese such as “Desculpe, eu falo um pouco de português…” seems to unlock their English vocabularly. If that doesn’t work I resort to making a fool of myself by trying Eurospeak … “Quelle heure ist es mi querido amigo”. No wonder they don’t give me the time of day!

Unlocking the vocab of beaurocrats, officials and professionals is one benefit from learning the local language, avoiding embarrassment another. But there are other benefits, although I forget what they are…

Donald Trump only speaks one language… too late to learn another?

Oh yes, I remember – to stave off alzheimers! Research suggests that part of maintaining a good memory and healthy brain should include challenging and expanding the mind. One of the most beneficial and successful ways to do this is by learning a new language. Another way of challenging and expanding the mind is by integrating into the local community to fully experience a different culture.

Boris is multi lingual – so be careful of learning too many languages…

So, where were we two years ago… Oh yes, Angela and I were having private lessons with a young bi-lingual lady. Unfortunately she had to stop due to health reasons and my Portuguese effort lapsed. Angela persevered and embarked on an online course, with impressive progress. She seemed to be enjoying the classes and spoke highly of the teacher, the methods and materials used. Not to be outdone, I recently decided to have another go and enrolled on the level 2 course.

I have to confess to being a lazy learner. There, I’ve said it! Like most people, I do need to feel that I am progressing when trying to learn something new. In previous classes I didn’t get that feeling, so motivating myself was hard work. Fortunately, thanks to this new online class with I can see progress already.

Emma, the tutor, is great. Well prepared, calm when faced with students’ technical/organisational problems, very committed and uses constructive criticism to improve pronunciation and sentence structure. The echo of unhelpful comments from a previous tutor such as … ”Alan, you are getting as bad as ??? (name omitted to save embarrassment)” is a thing of the past.

So what makes the courses effective? They are well planned and incorporate different materials. It’s a very interactive course – there’s no hiding at the back of the class (my usual tactic) as, following a plenary session, students are paired up to work on class activities in ‘breakout rooms’ – an unfortunate term as there’s no escape! At first this was daunting, perhaps more so for me as I started on the level 2 course due to the suggestion from ‘Her Outdoors’ that I would be bored on a basic level 1 course. Her other suggestion that I suffer from ADHD is said ‘tongue in cheek’, (I think…) but, ” You have a low boredom threshold” is not too far off the mark.

I’ll never be a highly committed language student like ‘Her Outdoors’ (she listens to language stuff while gardening) but I’m hoping that I can sustain my enthusiasm to learn Portuguese and that the alzheimer’s research is right about the benefits. The question is, can I continue to remember to turn up for the class…?


  • Vocab: *Quizlet, Memrise, Duolingo, Drops (there are free versions but upgrades are available)
  • On-line Dictionary/Reference: Linguee (best for EPin context: uses the word in example sentences) 
  • Conjuga-me (verb conjugation/quizzes) 
  • Reverso (gives pronunciation) 
  • Google translate (for longer passages – use at your peril!)

*Quizlet I find is particularly useful for learning new vocabulary and improving pronunciation.

Health & Fitness – Exercise for the Over 50’s

Being involved in walking football at Browns Leisure & Sports Club in Vilamoura, has become a major factor in settling into Portugal and  also improving my health and fitness. Take a look at the following videos and you might understand why.

Fitness for Over 50’s Part 1 introduces some of the Brown’s characters and also explains how to get involved with either Brown’s  Walking Football, or your local club. Fitness for Over 50’s Part 2 highlights some of the health and social benefits of regular exercise.



Health, Fitness & Ketogenic Lifestyle – The Result!

Well the Algarve Walking Football Cup tournament has come and gone and so I’ve got a chance to update the results of my change to a ketogenic lifestyle. The bad news is that my new found figure and fitness regime did not result in scoring any goals in the tournament, but I did reach my weight goal of losing 2 stone 2 pounds (13.6 kilos), albeit 2 days after.

Clearly it has been a success, evidenced not just by the figures, but also by a couple of teammates now embarking on their own regimes. I believe the success has been down to the following factors;

  • Planning the best time to start the regime (better term than diet!) For me it was at the start of a period when we didn’t have any social events planned.
  • Coming to realise that I could distract myself from feeling hungry (I was occasionally!) by doing things rather than focussing on the hunger. I also realised that it’s good to be a little hungry before you eat. Too often I was in the habit of eating, just because it was the usual time.
  • Realising how I was eating was not healthy and that I don’t need the sugary treats I was indulging in.
  • Best of all, having a knowledgeable wife guiding, supporting, monitoring and cajoling! And serving up some tasty new low carb recipes.

So, here’s the pictorial evidence – but be warned, it’s still not a pretty sight…

I think it’s a whole lot better without all that flab. I do seem to have more energy these days (I don’t fall asleep watching movies!) , my mood is better and more relaxed (mostly), I sleep better and I really enjoy meals.

I now need to work at firming things up, but from here I intend to start introducing some carbs back into my diet and also cut back on some of the beers and treats I used to indulge in… mostly.


32 Teams, 200+ players, one congested pitch!

Brown’s Players. Note: The location is just a figment of the author’s imagination…

Brown’s Sports & Leisure Club in Vilamoura hosted the Algarve Walking Football Cup in October 2018. Thirty two teams took part, sixteen in both the over 50’s and over 60’s categories. Brown’s had three teams; Brown’s 1 were entered in the over 60’s  category, Brown’s 2 & 3 were entered in the over 50’s.

Brown’s 1 take on Ormskirk North in the Saturday knockout stage of the over 60’s category. Managed by the mighty Ron, they won a penalty shoot out courtesy of some fine shots, but also three saves from “H”‘.

Blog author Sundance (no. 5, aka ‘The Sprinkler’), player, blogger, and videographer sporting his sleek new look in Brown 2’s first  group game against Sheffield Wednesday CP1. The result was 3-2 to Brown’s.

Manager, captain and all round good guy Rodders et al show off their prowess in a hard fought group game against Sáo Bras. Apologies for poor sound quality due to wind noise.


More to follow when time allows…

Health, Fitness & Ketogenic Diet – Week III

Well the good news is that after a further blood test, my liver function appears to be returning to normal. What I shouldn’t admit to (on the hugely infinitesimal chance that my doctor reads this blog) is that the reduction in liver enzymes was possibly due to not taking the methotrexate medication. The reason I stopped taking it was because I was feeling a bit nauseous so held of taking the medication, fearing that the nausea would get worse. By not taking it, I was risking a return to the intense arthritic pain I had. Fortunately, the pain didn’t return.

What did happen though, was that I’ve had a lot of weird and vivid dreams which apparently are a facet of a low carb diet. I won’t bore you with all the details of the dreams, but the two most memorable ones involved arranging a drama performance for a funeral (mine) and a hole appearing in a football pitch I was playing on, followed by a bigger hole that uncovered an open top bus. The first one could be explained by my background in amateur dramatics and concern about my health. The second is either just weird or a reference to the latest football term of ‘parking the bus’, albeit in a strange place!

On the weight loss front, a further loss of 4 pounds was encouraging enough for me to continue. Along with all the lovely new meals I’m getting from Her Outdoors. She’s a star!

Health, Fitness & Ketogenic Diet – Week II

I survived the first week with comfort, but the second week has been harder, with nausea, tiredness and digestive problems. Not to mention the medical problems and a call from the Doctor. But there were some positives, notably a weight loss of 16 lbs by the end of week 2!

As I’ve wrote earlier, I suffer from psoriatic arthritis which is an auto immune disease. To control the condition I take methotrexate medication which can cause a range of side effects, including nausea and possible liver disease. Because of that, I need regular blood tests to monitor my blood and liver condition. My last two tests have shown an increase in liver enzymes. The very last one was taken 10 days into the diet and was much higher. Hence  call from my Doctor. His advice: stop the keto diet for now.

Mediterranean Salad

Her Outdoors however, was convinced that the problem could be resolved with ‘tweaking’ the diet by reducing the protein level and increasing the amount of fresh vegetables. I wasn’t too sure about ignoring medical advice, bu the Doctor was not knowledgable about a Ketogenic diet and he did admit that he wasn’t certain what to do. Her Outdoors though, presented a good argument for tweaking the diet.

So I stuck to the diet, hoping that the next blood test would reverse the trend. Watch this space, or subscribe to get future blogs!

Health, Fitness & Ketogenic Diet Part II


One week into a keto diet with intermittent fasting (17/7 – first meal at 12.00, last one at 7pm). My aim was to start with with 3 meals per day but then reducing to 2 per day.

Her Outdoors warns that starting a keto diet does entail some extra financial investement at the beginning. ( But how about the emotional cost?

What can I say after one week? Well it can’t have been that bad, as I’m still on the diet! Not only that, but I think I’ve got off to a flying start. Weight is down from 13 stone 2lb to 12 stone 4lb (largely water rather than fat, which is normal). Visually, the flab is still there, although the tape measure has reduced by one inch, down from 41” to 40”.

Mealtimes have been even more of a pleasure than usual, as I’ve really enjoyed the fresh food and salads. Her Outdoors has excelled herself in serving up some exciting new recipes. Clearly, she has spent more time indoors than outdoors, partly due to us being in the UK this week.

The physical lowlights of the last 7 days have included waking up with headaches, a mild craving for sweet treats, more use of
mouthwash to counteract bad breath and several visits to the w.c. The physical highlight of the week was having bacon and eggs for breakfast and a glass of wine with a meal when friends came for dinner. How can you complain about a diet that allows you bacon, fried eggs and wine. Not together of course, that would be gross.

Food Porn – Look but don’t eat!

What I wasn’t prepared for, was the mental torture. A friend came round for coffee and we put out some chocolate wafer bars and he ate one! Boldly! Right in front of me! With a look of satisfaction on his face! The problem was, they were sitting there like a belisha beacon, flashing at me! “Eat me!” they taunted, “I’ll be good for you”. I resisted and was awarded later with Brownie points by Her Outdoors. Whilst you can eat Brownies, the points are not edible! (Actually watching him eat wasn’t that hard, I’m just trying to entertain here…)

How to torture someone on a diet!

The torture didn’t end there. A day later we had a family picnic planned for the weekend and Her Outdoors decided to make a carrot cake. She makes a very tasty carrot cake, which contains carrots, which are vegetables. Which should be allowable. “Wow” methinks, I will still get some treats. Wrong! “It’s not for us, it contains flour” says Her Outdoors, crushing my excitement and taking all the joy out of my world. What was worse was not getting to clean the mixing bowl out. It got even worse when watching the family eating the cake and became unbearable when my brother-in-law smiled broadly, when accepting a second piece.

But the craving has gone. More later… if I survive.

Health, Fitness and Diets


Her Outdoors has started a new regime, the ‘Ketogenic diet’. Over the years she has tried a succession of diets. Name a popular diet regime (Atkins, Fatkins, Notsofatkins…) and she has probably tried it. One or two have been very successful, others less so. Her last one, which she embarked on 4 years ago was very successful, losing 4 stones in a period of 10 months. Unfortunately, as with other diets, the weight has slowly returned. This latest one, which she started 4 weeks ago, seems different. For a start, she isn’t on it to lose weight, but to improve her health, so as she doesn’t weigh herself, she doesn’t know whether she is losing weigh. Rather strikingly though, within 10/14 days, the pair of shorts she bought the day she started the diet are now falling down. This was  quite embarrassing when we were walking around the local Aldi! (Other supermarkets are now being used.)

One of the many things I love about H.O. is that she likes to look after me and particularly my health. At least, I think that is why she is always trying to get me to share her diets. I won’t admit to being a bit overweight and needing to diet, but instead I could be considered to be short for my weight…

Ok, full disclosure here, I wrote that last paragraph and then went online to find my ideal weight…

NSC Clinics

According to the above chart, I now have to admit to being a tiny bit obese and therefore needing to diet. In my defence, (from who or what I’m not sure) I think these charts are subjective or even biased against ‘big boned’ people. Anyway, I swim, cycle, walk and have even started playing football again. Walking Football (WF) admittedly, but it is still football. It’s my love for sweets, cakes, chocolate and puddings that is my downfall. I could happily eat a packet of biscuits in one go. I don’t, but I could. (Actually, I have done, but not often and they were small packets!)

Now Her Outdoors can also be very persuasive. Since she started her new regime I have had a stream of negative comments about me being overweight, flabby, having a poor diet, but also more positive views about the health and fitness benefits, having more energy and sleeping better as you don’t need to get up in the middle of the night…. And so I started to contemplate joining her on the diet. (What she failed to highlight though was not drinking beer! )

The deciding factor about joining Her Outdoors on the regime was her comment about the potential of being fitter and more mobile to play football. Oh, and another factor was the visit to the hospital for an annual check up on my psoriatic arthritis which revealed my weight had gone up to over 13 stone and the blood test revealed that my liver function was ‘a slight concern’.

So I’ve joined her, at least for a trial period, leading up to a Walking Football tournament in October. I’ve started on my very first (possibly last) diet and will blog my progress, or lack of it, on a weekly basis. It’s not going to be pretty as I intend to use pics to chart the contraction, or expansion, of the tape measure. The goal, or goals (see what I did there?) is to follow the Ketogenic diet, lose the flab, get fitter, and score more goals in the tournament. Actually I’ve never scored a goal in a WF tournament, so any goal would be a bonus.

Not a pretty Sight!


  1. This blog about diets is written by a man who normally scoffs about diets. (He also scoffs a lot of sweet things, which is what led us here…)
  2. The pic immediately above may or may not be the 66 year old author of this blog. Please be kind with any comments.