Janet and me on the patio of our villa


I was a schoolteacher and Janet (mainly) home-educated our two children. When they flew the nest so did we. Emigrating  to central Portugal we lived in a villa for two years before looking for something new and positive to do.

After visiting over forty quintas (farms) we found and bought one on a gentle south-facing slope with mountain views and established but neglected olives groves and vines. We are now bringing it to life, learning how to do it all ourselves – vines and wine, olive trees and oil, irrigation and farming.


I changed my dinner jacket, smart clothes and town car for bib-and-braces, farming boots and a tractor. Our semi-detached house in Surrey for a farm cottage without water or electricity. My proficient English for beginner’s Portuguese. My six-day week of 8.30 – 6 for dawn ’til dusk. The drone of the M25  for the trill of bee-eaters and  sweet song of nightjars.

A happy story.

12 Responses to “About”

  1. Ian Franklin Says:

    this is fascinating. I have to make time to read it all.

  2. Paul Sturgeon Says:

    Hi Clive, this sounds like good fun apart from the broken bits. You fully fit?

    1. Clive Boden Says:

      Certainly am, and full of energy too! Its great to hear from you , Paul 🙂 Will email you separately.

  3. Terry Says:

    Hey! Met you on wunderground, but wunderground has now twice lost all my recent messages, and my computer has had to be reconfigured, making my communication spotty. Hope all is well in the hills of Portugal, that your garden is growing well, and you have a decent camera to take pictures of all the awesome birds. You will have to remind me what your wunderground handle is.

    Blessings, bikesnapper

    1. Clive Boden Says:

      Hey Terry, nice to re-contact you. Unhelpful that Wunderground lost all your messages 😦
      On Wunderground I’m cgb, and thanks for the good wishes. As requested, I posted a pic showing a little more of our orchard in Serpins, and will do more soon. I guessed work or family were occupying you full-time. Our garden is producing veg so fast . . . courgettes at two kilos each, five at a time! (any good recipes???) and the tomatoes are about to ripen – guess its ratatouille time!
      My new camera – brilliant! Me – dim! Packed the wrong lead when we went to the quinta and now I can’t upload pictures of storks, partridge, red-rumped swallows living IN our house! etc.

      I ‘ve copied and pasted the last message I sent you via Wunderground below, so you can be back up to speed straight away.

      Look for ward to more chat soon 🙂

      Hi Terry,

      Sorry about the delay in replying, farming and family keep me occupied!
      Location – Spain and Portugal share a common heritage and form a peninsula known as Iberia on the west of Europe. The northern half of Portugal is mountainous, the capital Lisbon is coastal and in the middle, and the southern half is much flatter. It’s a gorgeous country with LOADS of history. Both our houses are in the central region, Beiras. From the patio of our villa I once estimated that I can see 0.1 million trees up and down the valley. Very different in character, the house in the quinta is near a small village of a hundred or less folks and has far fewer trees around, and longer views – will post when my new camera arrives. Yes, I noted that you use a Panasonic camera; it helped me decide on one for myself – thanks! The quinta forms an equilateral triangle with two “cities” which in America would be called towns. To our north is Fundão (pop 8,500 and Wikipedia describes it) and to the south is Castelo Branco. Both have one cinema with one screen, Fundão isn’t big enough to have a football stadium. Small town.

      Temperatures – my blog shows it all, definitely not humid, in fact I have spent many hours over the last month putting irrigation into the veg gardens – I am off to market shortly and when I return I’ll plant more seedlings and install irrigation for them. It is arid in summer, and in winter down to a few degrees below freezing but rising to above freezing when the sun comes up. Very rare to get several days below freezing. Snow doesn’t stick here, but from the top of our land we see the Serra de Estrella which is topped with snow November to April. It gives a katabatic wind about half the time.

      My wife Janet was a language teacher when we met, and when we emigrated 25 years later I had to learn Portuguese. I am now fluent but not perfect, speaking the language as well as our neighbours but with more elaborate vocabulary as befits an ex-teacher!

      I looked up Springfield (Wikipedia again) where you live and discovered it is a good size modern city. Do you live centrally or in the suburbs? Your weather is listed as the most varied in the entire USA, which for “weather nuts” would make it a great place to be. Do you like it, or is it just a place to earn a crust?
      I can see why you like to cycle around; your town looks good for that.

      Just returned from market, where one can buy all manner of veg garden plants in bunches wrapped in newspaper and tied with agricultural plastic string – for example, 200 onions or 36 cauliflower plants for three euros (under $5). There are about thirty plant stalls, four tree-sellers and three grain merchants. One stall sells stills for making moonshine! Three sell chicks, ducklings, geese and rabbits. It’s a real old-fashioned farming market. Cobbled pavements and road . . .
      Temperature now (4.40pm) is 38.3°C in the shade and I have to go and water the fruit trees I planted in February. Without our solar-panel pump there would be no water for them and they would have a harder time than they do now.
      Will post new pictures as soon as I can.

      Best regards, Clive

  4. Paul Tyler Says:

    Hi Clive,

    Not sure if you will remember me from St Johns although clearly remember chemistry lessons with you. I saw your piece in the Old Johnian magazine and thought I’d check out your Blog. Fascinating stuff, you and Janet seem to be making an excellent job of your new lives. I’m very jealous of where you are living and what you are doing.

    I have turned full circle and gone from being a teachers pest to teaching myself. I have been living in Glasgow now for 12 years and primary school teaching for the last 4 years. My primary 7 class have aquired a very good knowledge of chemistry despite it not been specifically on our curriculum!!

    I hope things continue to go well and I’ll certainly keep up to date with your progress via your blog.


    Paul Tyler

  5. Andrew Sage Says:

    Hello Clive,

    I see you have moved on! When last we spoke you were working at St Johns and were doing up a gite in France (from what I remember).

    You may recall that Teresa came to lodge with me (you found her a job at St Johns).

    Samuel seems all grown up. What of Hannah?

    Big good to catch up. Do you miss Fetcham?



  6. Vicki France Says:

    A reply to an old comment from Wunderground, incase you don’t visit the site anymore. I sent you a reply on Wunderground but after I sent it I reread it and I had a typos in it.

    Your comment:
    Great shot, Vicki! I haven’t seen a rainbow like this before – usually the sun is behind the observer in order to get the spectral reflection, but here its below the horizon. The usual lighter sky under the rainbow is absent too – an educational shot!


    My reply:
    The sun is behind me the sun and in front of me the rays under the rainbow are anticrepuscular rays. Check them out at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anticrepuscular_rays

    Thanks much, and I enjoyed your blog very much,

    Vicki France

    1. Clive Boden Says:

      Even more educational ! and thanks for taking the trouble to introduce me to anticrepuscular rays. Much appreciated, Vicki. Your website is lovely, with great rainbow photographs among lots of other beautiful images too. I really enjoyed browsing it, and the link through to your blog opened a door to part of your life. With such lovely photos it would be nice for a reader to know how some of these pictures happened – I’m sure there are some stories in there. I see your mom was a photographer too – it shows! Have you considered putting a few of her pics onto your site, if she wouldn’t mind?
      Would it be OK if I add your site to the side bar on my blog? I’m glad you liked my blog 🙂
      I wish you more success and lots of beautiful scenes to capture and experience. Clive.

  7. Hello Clive. I have read your entire blog over the last three days and have thoroughly enjoyed it! My wife and I are also teachers, and we hope to retire (early) to Portugal on a small farm. We’re still pretty young though (mid 30’s) so that will still be a while away. Thank so much for taking the time to write this. It’s a great read!
    I very much enjoyed the posts about wine making, so I am just wondering; how does it taste??

    1. Clive Boden Says:

      Thank you so much for the comment, Milliquist. Also glad that you enjoyed the blog. I have lots still to write but our family in UK take more time these days.
      We just ate dinner, a large courgette straight from the garden, baked with a stuffing of minced beef and our own tomatoes and fresh herbs. Janet had our red wine and I had our white, both over lots of ice. They both are really strong wines and in summer need diluting. The red is like a burgundy but more fruity and a little sweeter because of that; it has a blue tinge which makes it slightly fuchsia-coloured against the ice. The white is also full-bodied and is developing a pink tint which make it almost peach colour against the ice. At 38deg in the shade as it is at lunchtime, the iced wine is, well, FANTASTIC ! It tastes amazing (and it is pesticide etc free) and looks a picture, so I’ll post one! We so love living the dream . . . and you will too when you eventually early-retire.
      Best wishes to you both, Clive and Janet

  8. Nola-ann and David Lemmer Says:

    Dear Clive and Janet,
    We have absolutely loved your blog…printed it out to read over and over again. It has given us immeasurable insight into what we are taking on – thank you. We are presently looking for the ”Quinta-match-made-in-heaven” in the Castelo Branco region. We hope to oneday connect with you. Best wishes, David and Nola-ann Lemmer

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