Wednesday 18 April 2007

Spot the Difference!

Compare with the image below.

OK - I'll put you out your misery to tell you that the lady pushing the shopping trolley has changed!


New delivery of new plastic pags for Jose Antonio and Linda. We had a laugh tonight (anyone with weak sides better go and get their corset on now) that the lady depicted is Linda and that she'd been dragged from the 60's (when she was about 6) to the 70's (when she was - whatever!).

The long winter evenings here just FLY by!

Sunday 15 April 2007

Weather (last time)

I believe this is how it works that here in Faja it can be chucking it down, yet over in Santa Cruz on the other side of the island (only 12 kilometres away) it's bright and sunny. It also explains how it can be chucking it down here in Faja, yet it appears bright and clear out to sea. And how, if you drive over to S Cruz, you have to put your fog lights on once you're up in the Zona Nevoeiro (I may have spelt that wrongly). Cloudy zone - to drive from Faja Grande to S Cruz, you have to ascend to 600m/2000ft.

It is actually quite something to drive over the top of the island - creeping along with your fog lights one minute and out into bright sunshine the next!

This is a west wind scenario. The moist Atlantic wind rises over the west (left) cliffs of Flores and dumps rain and cloud over the west coast but this "bad news" has fizzled away by the time you get over to the east (right) coast at S. Cruz. In an east wind, the position reverses and in changeable weather, you see how you can get four seasons in one day!

Plastic Bags (again)

Article in this week's "Economist" (sort of UK equivalent of "Time") suggesting they've been banned in San Francisco.

Next stop, Santa Cruz das Flores.

Please note, I am not - repeat NOT - some sort of hair shirted hippy-dippy tree-hugger. For Pete's sake we managed to resist all attempts to recycle our waste when we lived in Edinburgh. But the fact that you COULD recycle in Edinburgh got under my skin enough to notice that you can't do it here even if you wanted to - well, let us say the Camara Municipal of Lajes das Flores doesn't seem to be promoting it in any shape or form at all. Nor am I aware whether the Governo Regional of the Azores has any policy on recycling.

Is it because the environment (ambiente) of Flores is still just so pristine that nobody's woken up to the fact that there could possibly be a problem if we don't watch out? That's my theory.

Thursday 12 April 2007

Weather (again)

Sorry if I seem a bit obsessed with the weather on this blog but when you've got the Atlantic Ocean at the bottom of your garden, it becomes more of a preoccupation. Also, people tend to assume the Azores are "tropical islands" - i.e. "sun kissed palm trees, white beaches and blue seas". (Well certainly blue seas, one or two palm trees but black beaches - volcanic, you see).

I've digressed already (but isn't that the point of a blog?)

Anyway, I wanted to share this satellite image from earlier this week which encapsulates a "weather moment" very clearly:-

Flores is the little dot in the (small) red circle to the left of the pic. Note the line of cloud (white) over us. That was a cold front. It's moving south east. When the satellite snapped this pic at about noon, it was raining very hard. But a couple of hours later, in the afternoon, it cleared up and was bright and sunny as the front passed over south east: we emerged into the clear - but cold as it was coming from the north west - air behind the front as the satellite pic clearly shows.

Weather in action, as it were, brought to you by the Finnish Meteorological Institute's website available (free) at this link:

Friday 6 April 2007

Plastic Bags - Part 3

Germano's, the biggest shop in Lajes (second biggest town on Flores - although it's not really a town, just a village) have a good map on their plastic bags:-

Sorry the image is a bit fuzzy but taking a picture of a plastic bag with a flash produces disappointing results.

However, my favourite Flores plastic bag - although it doesn't bear a map - is that of our local shop here in Faja - Jose Antonio Ramos Teodosio - "Big Joe" as we call him. Please note, it's not possible to wheel a trolley round Joe's shop as the bag implies. It's too small. But it has everything you would need on a day to day basis. And the kindness of Joe and Linda is something you don't find in many places.

Wednesday 4 April 2007

Plastic Bags - Part 2

I have been unable to find an example of the old Boaventura Ramos bags I believe carried a much better map of Flores on the back. This is annoying me. Is it an old one that's now out of print? Will BR 2006 bags be auctioned on eBay as rare collectors' items?

Meantime, the best I can do is a rare example of a 2007 Lourenco & Lourenco Lda. (AKA Arlindo's) bag. Rare because it shows the shopping trolley motif - only 500 of them were printed and 499 of these are now blowing around the landfill on the road to Ponta Delgada chasing the sea gulls.

Plastic Bags

15th century explorers named this island "Flores" after the profusion of wild flowers they found. By the same principle, a 21st century explorer landing here would have to call this island "Plastic Bags".

I believe that in some countries (Switzerland?) plastic bags are being taxed out of existence due to their eco-unfriendliness. But not here on Flores - maybe it's because the environment is just so pristine, no-one has yet woken up to the threat of the plastic bag (if indeed there is one).

ANYWAY (as my late father used to say), the plastic bags given out by the island's oldest "General Merchant" (as we would say in UK English), Boaventura Ramos & Ca. Lda. (est. 1926) have a super map of Flores on them.

Here it is:-

Wait a minute! Now that I look at this, that's not nearly as good a map as BV's bags used to have on them!

Excuse me for a bit while I investigate ...

Malaquias Branco

When we first arrived on Flores (May 2006), we sort of tried to "test ourselves to destruction" on how cheap wine we could drink. Starting from the bottom up, we were pleasantly surprised to find that our second experiment - Malaquias Branco - was perfectly drinkable at 0.9EU a litre.

Yes, that's right - 0.9 Euros (approx £(GBP) 0.60) a LITRE!

Now, we've been told that the locals only use it to hose down the animal fodder: apparently we get smirked at in the shop as "the crazy English" for buying it to drink. But it's really perfectly OK.

But then one day, there was no more Malaquias Branco. It was like a scene out of Whisky Galore - " Maybe some will come with the next ship " said Linda at the shop (without conviction). "Jose Antonio is going over to the wholesaler in Santa Cruz, tomorrow - maybe they will have some left ..." (even less conviction).

A Malaquias Branco drought! This is a very serious matter because the next wine up the ladder in cheapness is 4EU a litre - a 450% increase and this could wreck our precarious finances!

But today the drought ended! - MB in abundance in the shops in Santa Cruz. HURRAH!!