Monday, 28 May 2012


Surely I can't be the only one to have noticed the uncanny resemblance between Phil Mitchell in Eastenders' lawyer, Richmal "Ritchie" Scott, and International Monetary Fund chief, Christine Lagarde:-

Lagarde                                                   Scott
I'd forgotten she used to be in Howard's Way (Ritchie from Easties, not Christine Lagarde).

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Keep calm and carry on

Probably wondering why I've opened this post with a picture of a pan of potatoes boiling.

It's because these were the last three potatoes in the house and there was no chance of securing any more in the near future. That's due to the fact the fortnightly container ship which brings 99% of Flores' supplies, and which was already several days late, was unable to berth at Lajes last week due to heavy weather. After having hung around off the coast at Fajãzinha for a bit, it gave up and returned to the mainland. It's not scheduled to make another attempt at berthing until sometime this week meaning that Flores won't have been resupplied for nearly a month.

M/S Ponto do Sul alongside at Lajes in happier circumstances
The consequence is that the shelves have become distinctly bare in the last week or so with such basics as potatoes and onions having become unobtainable - Germano's in Lajes resembles nothing so much as the Dnepropetrovsk branch of GUM in 1972.

So much so that the Azorean airline, SATA, has laid on extra flights to fly in fruit n' veg (seriously) although the story I heard was it all sold out within two hours of landing.

That was obviously a slight exaggeration as there was a small amount of potatoes to be had at Braga's in Sta Cruz this afternoon although their appearance in our basket did provoke Didia at the check out to exclaim "Ah! Consegiu apanhar batatas!" (Oh! You managed to get potatoes!)

So it's all been a bit Dunkirk spirit and make do and mend round here recently. But did I keep calm and carry on? Did I stuff as like. I went out and panic bought a bottle of gas (pictured above) even though we didn't immediately need it to keep the potatoes (if you can get them) boiling at 5RdA. Didia the check out reckoned gas would be the next thing to run short and she usually knows what's what. As it happened, José Antônio had a few bottles left but that could have changed by tomorrow in which case I shall be open to offers for my bottle shrewdly acquired today. You have to take your chances while you can.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Equal Opportunities

In yesterday's post about recolha seletiva, I described Flores as an island without newspapers. That's not entirely true. There are, in fact, two monthly newspapers, As Flores and O Monchique. I have to confess I don't buy them with any regularity because you can catch up with news more easily online via Forúm ilha das Flores. And, as regards the non-news articles, I don't find Portuguese an easy read due to their habit of writing in such long sentences that you've forgotten how it began by the time you get to the end. (You think I'm bad?)

However, I came by a free copy of April's O Monchique because José Antônio at the shop used it to wrap a wine glass I'd bought to replace one that got broken (and which, of course, I am precluded by current regulations from recycling). I was intrigued to note from this that, as well as recycling, equal opportunities have arrived on Flores in the form of the annual Miss Flores competition having become, for the first time (I think), Miss & Mister Flores.

According to the report, nine raparigas (girls) and five rapazes (guys) took part and there are 107 photos of them to be seen on Facebook. Below are twelve of the competitors pictured against the backdrop of Flores landmark, the basaltic columns of the Rocha dos Bordões:

Picture credit - Associação Jovens
The winner of the coveted title of Miss Flores was Tamara Sousa:-

Picture credit Associação Jovens
Picture credit Associação Jovens
While the inaugural crown of Mister Flores was carried off by Gustavo Alves:-
Picture credit Associacao Jovens

The grand final of M&M Azores is on Terceira on 27 June. I'll need to break another glass in late July to find out how the Flores team gets on. Let's hope there's a Flores story from the event to report - muito boa sorte pessoal.

Picture credit  Associacao Jovens

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Recolha Seletiva

Q. When is glass not glass?
A. When it's a glass.

Let me explain. You know how men don't read the instructions (whereas women read the instructions and then ask their husbands how you do it anyway)? Well I was caught red-handed on this front last week for having blithely imagined that the glass pictured above (free gift with bottle of juice hence urgent need to dispose of the wretched thing) would be eligible for removal on the glass collection day of the new recolha seletiva (literally "selective collection") regime in place on Flores and whisked off to the brand new Centro de Processamento e Valorização Orgânica de Residuos das Flores so big it can be seen from space.

As is no doubt the international standard, it's paper in the blue bucket, glass in the green and plastic and metal in the yellow. Glass and plastic/metal is collected every Wednesday whereas paper is every first and third Thursday of the month (not too much of a problem on an island with no newspapers). Collection of indifferenciado organico ("miscellaneous organic") - i.e. potato peelings - continues to be every Monday and Friday.

Anyway, what we've noticed is that the vast majority of our cack is plastic and metal (once a week) whereas very little of it is indifferenciado organico (twice a week) on account of how Carol composts the potato peelings. Don't for a minute imagine from that we're some sort of hippy-dippy, tree hugging, Independent reading, lah-di-dah, namby-pamby, lefty-liberal, don't send our children to school (if we had any which thank heavens we don't) eco-warriors - very far from it. It's just that Carol thinks the compost is good for her tomatoes. Personally, I think compost is like spinach - you start out with great armfuls of the stuff but once it's cooked, you're left with a teaspoonful and wonder why you bothered. But I digress, where was I?

Oh yes - I was somewhat taken aback last Wednesday when there was knock at the door and the chap who's second in command of recolha seletiva pointed out that there had been extracted from our cack and left neatly on the pavement (I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take a picture) the glass at the top of this post along with a bunch of plastic flowers (stiffened with metal wire) and a metal grill thing. He pointed out (perfectly politely and slightly apologetically) that these items should be put out with the indiferenciados organicos (potato peelings) on Friday.

I was so astonished, I didn't argue but when I got back inside and consulted the instructions (above) - which I hadn't bothered to read - I found the chap was quite right. It's only plastic and metal embalagens - wrappings - which are allowed (hence the plastic flowers and grill being vetoed) and specifically excluded under the vidro (glass) section are copos - glasses.

Does anyone know the scientific reason for a drinking glass being any less eligible for recycling than a perfume bottle (specifically included in the instructions)? I wish now I'd gone along to the sessão de esclarecimento which was held in the casa de povo (village hall) on the day the recycling was rolled out to find out.

I have to say, we'd taken to recolha seletiva with fair gusto but this set-back has sort of inhibited us a bit. Only today, I had to rebuke Carol for having put a plastic dishwashing brush in the plasticos e metais bucket instead of the indiferenciados organicos - it's plastic alright, but not a wrapping, you see? I wonder if there have been any empirical academic studies about whether the pristine purity of a melange of Coke tins and shampoo bottles is really so badly tainted by the odd dish brush (or plastic flower) that it's worth disheartening folk in this way and risking distracting them from the cause?