Any donations will be used to continue our work, bringing this lovely old farm house back to life, after 50 years of being empty, and it will be here for long after we have gone, with it´s huge old oak trees and amazing views this place deserves to be ronovated for the future, maybe one day you can visit here too and see just why we are so passionate about what we are doing.
Hello please let me intraduce myself, My name is Maria and this is our story,
Firstly I thank you very much for looking at my page, this is very new to me, so not really knowing what to expect, hopfully some possitive encouragement is all I really need. and a release from all my frustrations at the moment. Well let me tell you a bit about our project and how it all started,
After meeting my partner 2005 in Australia, we often talked about living abroad somewhere warmer than the UK, guess alot of us watched A place in the sun, etc and dreamed! being that i am so close to my family it never would have been too far away,
Anyway the years past we kept working , paying the mortgage and all the other bills for my little 1 bedroom place and life just carries on, Then in 2006 after a very short illness , quite suddenly I lost my mum to cancer, and It hit us all quite hard, and yet again life must go on as hard as it was! then happier times in 2008 my only daughter got married another big sign that life moves on for everyone! and we we are not getting any younger!
so in 2009 my partner and I came to Portugal to look at buying a old farm, and as it not too far away from family. we start to look for our place in the sun.
After looking at a few places, all around Portugal, we found a old farm houses set in the beautiful countryside this was Quinta das Fontainhas.
THIS IS THE HOUSE AS WE FOUND IT 2009There are some of the huge boulders in the back garden!
With it´s huge boulders and old oak trees, and fell in love with Quinta das Fontainhas, A place is on top of a hill over looking the highest mountain range in Portugal, to our front and the lovely Mondego river down the other side of the hill, it is beautiful and peaceful. this was our dream!
Quinta das Fontainhas sits above the pretty little village of Vila franca da Serra
So after our stay here we go back to the UK, to our jobs, all the big and ever growing bills, And soon put our little place with the small garden and lots of neighbours, on the market, to fullfill our dream of buying that beautiful old place in the sun with it´s land and views of fields and mountains,
Back in the uk working hard while dreaming of selling the house and buying our adventure, thankfully only 6 months later our house is sold, we go back to Portugal and make an offer on the old farm , yes! and the dream has started to become a reality,
We spent all our spare time prepare to move, loading all our belongings and memories into the back of a lorry and a caravan and get ready to live the dream, this was going to be a big step, as my partner was not going to be able to come over permently as the old house would need alot of work and work cost money and time,! so we made the choice that I would come over and get the house project sorted out and he would stay back in the uk to work for as long as was needed.
October 2010. I handed my notice in at work, The lorry is packed, caravan hitched up, cat all chipped with pet passport, we have got our tickets for the ferry, and we are all set, It was very hard saying our goodbyes, as we make our way to start our dream in portugal..
My partner, my dad and I arrive in Portugal and explore our new home with it´s old stone bread over under the huge oak trees, just as amazing as we remember it being on our visit months before,this is an amazing place! so we get caravan set up and time for a cuppa,
I remeber it being really sunny and warm in november as we all got to work on the land finding old covered steps and underground streams, and getting the siting for the lorry which almost cost my dad his life! thankfully all was well , then to make the caravanas as homely as possible for the winter which did not take long, after 3 weeks of hard work the men had to head back to the uk. and it was just me and my old cat, living in a caravan on top of a hill in Portugal,
We settled in to life, I met a few English people which made my life easier, during December we all helped picking the olives on a friends farm, I had never done that before so it felt good to do something new and after working inside for the past 2 years working outside in the winter sunshine was just what I needed, I was getting into the swing of the new country life, and was looking forward to spending my first christmas here, with some friends, as I was missing my family very much, especially at this time of year.
December 24th 2010.Oh what a day!! with the oliving picking finished, Chrismas shopping done, and looking forward to Christmas dinner tomorrow with new friends.
But instead I wake up that morning and it was freezing cold in the caravan, a lovely sunny but bitter cold frost outside, I try to light the fire! no gas? I go outside and change the bottle for a new one, go back inside the caravan still the fire will not light? .... so wait 5 mins, then I try to light the gas cooker, and boom! I am blown off my feet in a gas explosion, setting my clothes alight, I get up run outside and roll on the ground like you see in films! and screamed for help, like I have never screamed before, after which I screamed for my cat, who came woundering dazed out of the caravan and disapeared somewhere, to be found scared and a little burnt later by friends. sadly she died a year later at the grand old age of 13,
Somehow I had the the sense to grab my bag and throw it outside and was able to call my friends for help. I know they are at least 20 minutes away, so while waiting for them I use the small extiguser to try and put the flames out, to no avail, then I was franticly moving 2 gas bottles and my car away from the burning caravan, pouring the limited supply of water we had into the caravan, I was fighting a losing battle, I looked at my finger tips it looked like they were going to peel off. as I dragged a large wet cushion out of caravan. I realized I could do no more my hands and face where burnt,
I stand there helpless, then realizing I´m stood in sopping wet burned clothes just wacthing my little home burn to the ground, this was not what I was expecting for my First Christmas eve here in Portugal! I did stupidly try to go in for some clothes but the smoke was too thick, and the the caravan and so many possecions gone forever! and we did not have insurencefor caravan once here either! so everything just up in smoke my home our belongings computor,clothes photos,etc all gone in minutes! this was not a good day.
My friends arrived as the black smoke rose above the village, think they were quite shocked to see me in that state! now I could feel my hands burning and think I went into a bit of shock myself. now that help had arrived I was very relieved, no one knew where the hospital was so we had to stop at the nearest house to ask a local for help, they showed us to local health centre, and I went off to another 2 hospitals after that, needless to say I did not have Christmas dinner, instead I spent the first christmas and new year in Portugal in a hospital.
My friends contacted my partner in the UK and arranged thankfully for my daughter to came over and stayed in a hotel very close to the hospital and was able to be with me at that time and for that I am extremly greatful to her, we were unable to touch for a while so did not get to hug each other till new years day, and it felt so good, it could have been so much worse. never take anything for granted you never know what the next seconds can bring!
So after2 weeks in the burns unit having treatment in Coimbra and a short recovery time out of hospital I wanted to go back to the UK with my daughter, and I need to replace all my lost documents etc, and go back to see my family just to let them know I am ok, and then I need to get back to portugal and see my old cat, making us another home for the rest of the winter here, and to get on with things like getting a building licence and project for the old house, that I am now needing to live in with all its draughts and holes in the very uneven floors, this has to be home for now,
So we come to 4 years later , we got all the paperwork and builders ready to start the building work on this old farm house, so at last things have moved on . I moved into the back of the lorry which we made very homely, while building work was taking place here.
Our Quinta das Fontainhas Casa Carvalhos
Our dream of to having a small holiday B&B and a small area for a few campers, on our farm land, is still a little way away, it seems, but still our dream, that has been a little bit of a nightmare but we, as does life we have moved on, The house has changed and still lots to do till it is in liveable condition.
Well I wrote this a year or so ago, but did not feel right about posting it..... but we are another year down the line and still a long way from living our dream! the house project has moved on some since then but still seems like so so much to do. It is almost 5 years that I have been here while my other half works hard in England living in the back of his van! for us both this has been a very long hard and expencive process. we have put our Blood, sweet and tears in to this quite literally!
We still what to make this happen, I work on the land here with our little tractor keeping the land under some sort of control!! while I wait for builders to do their thing! the exterior is almost done now! so now the inside need to be done. and this is why I am asking for help!! although it feels very odd asking strangers for help! but as i said in the beginging I think all I really need is a bit of moral support! as times get tough here and the sooner the house is complete the sooner my partner can come and join me and we can get this project off the ground, as it is a stunning place and we would love to share it with some guests, and to have our families here, I am now proud to say I have 2 beautiful grandchildren back in the UK, and would love to have them come over to stay! as it is a long time between visits back to the UK, and that also eats into our house build funds too! thanks to Skype we are able to keep in touch! my grandaughter who is 3 has had a video tour of our house and says that she can come over and do all my jobs for me!! bless her if only sweetpea! you will need to wait a little longer to come to nanna and grundies home!
and to meet our lovely new cat Meeka that we got from the local rescue centre she is great company for me here, I still bearing the scars of the burns on my hands! but i was very very lucky to come away with minimal visible signs of my dramatic day.
So a little about Quinta das Fontainhas, Casa Carvalhos( Fountain farm, oak house) named because of the many underground streams, water mines and pond on the land and we named the house, as the farm was divided and sold in parts, there are big old oak tree that are on our land so it seemed like the obvious name, as many locals mention the trees being here as long as they remember over 100 year and more! also our lovely olive grove where my friends and pick for our own olives and take to press our Virgin olive oil each yearmaybe I could give some away to people that pledge to our cause!, now thats an idea! if you would like to buy some let me know, we dont have loads but i was told in the factory that is is very good oil! i dont like olives! but having our very own hand picked by myself and my 2 friends Virgin olive oil is lovely, we pick enought to last me, and they enjoy helping and sharing the lovely warm oil fresh from the factoy in December,
The work on the house is coming on, this is a view from behind the house with stunning far reaching views across to the mountains
This is the amazing view from our Quinta the mist rolling down the highest point of Portugal where you can ski in the winter months and it looks stunning covered in snow
view of the sunrise from the terrace across our olive grove
more work going on,
starting to become more homely, outside on the terrace We hope to share our home and our dream with you some day soon.from Quinta das Fontainhas Casa Carvalhos.
some of the lovely sights here.
amazing bird life right outside the window enjoying the figs
best wishes from Quinta das Fontainhas Casa Carvalhos in the green heart of PortugalThank you very much just for taking the time to reading my story, If you would like to see more photos taken on and around our Quinta see our Facebook page Quinta das fontainhas vila franca da serra. And please note that we are nothing to do with the Quinta below on the google maps this is also causeing confusion as the are using 2 different adresses now even though all their signs to the quinta say the name of their place! so we have had to add Casa dos Carvalhos which make it all a bit long! but as we have huge old oak tree that can be seen for miles i thought that i would call it that, but really Our house is Quinta das Fontainhas.
Love and peace from our little corner of the Earth, Quinta das Fontainhas (casa Carvalhos) Vila Franca da Serra in central Portugal.