A large proportion of the land is eucalyptus and cork oaks, and it had been ravaged by the fires of 4 years ago. It had been empty since the fire so it was damp but not damaged by the fire. It is in the Monchique mountains of the Algarve. And we love it.

Like most people understanding the bureaucracy of a new country and struggling with an unfamiliar language has problems. Luckily the Portuguese understand this and have invented the whole industry around serving people who have these difficulties. Our big problem was 4 months into our new lives covid thwarted our progress and here we are 12 months later and still a number of administrative issues are not resolved.

I understand that covid has been a big problem for everyone and many people have suffered in many different ways but at the beginning the rules were not relaxed and we had an anxious time trying to fulfil the form filling before the time limits and inevitable fines. Turning up to appointments only to find a note on the door saying closed due to covid. Navigating an alien system that is only partially digital can be tricky at the best of times but with covid double the problem.

Now for the good news. We love it here, we love the people, the environment and of course the weather. Everyone has better weather than Ireland! We love growing food on our land, we love the eagles soaring above us and the wrens who live in our porch. We love our Portuguese neighbours and the multinational bars and restaurants. And we love the way Portugal is moving towards a greener future. What little I know of the politicians seems favourable compared to other countries.

Like many places the Algarve has problems with graffiti which is a real shame. Such a poor first impression. Also like many places in the world there is the problem of 1960s architecture looking tired and cheap. But I think the local councils have now recognised that they have to think long term and local rather than trying to compete with the rest of the world. I hope that they think of the of the unique gems that they have and enhance and reclaim where they can. With a will and a broad perspective it can be done. And with such great people here in Portugal I am sure that it will. Plus I have to say that the health service has been brilliant throughout these hard times and management has balanced the lockdowns well. I have to admit that it makes me proud to live here.

Howard Delaney