“I’m a big believer of daylight in the studio”. Geddy Lee
I am sat here listening to the builders working away downstairs in our ‘cave’ (garage) on what will become my art studio, and vowing never to use a British builder or worker again here in Portugal.
The only experiences we have of British builders out here have been awful – whereas every single one of the Portuguese builders we have had working on our house have all been brilliant.
When we first bought the house, we were apprehensive about using Portuguese workers – mainly because of the language barrier. We resorted to using a Portuguese friend to translate, and for emergencies we asked our neighbour to make calls for us.
Then we decided that we wanted to organise work ourselves and of course it seemed easier to use a British workman. So our satellite system and fake grass (don’t ask!) were fitted … and re-fitted! “We’ll be there tomorrow… sometime…or maybe the next day…” was a favourite phrase we heard over and over again… and the standard of work was pretty poor. Our satellite dish I think faced towards the Americas… and the best freesat reception came from the Scottish highlands…but only until about 8pm… It took two return trips by the company and a South African lad to come out who eventually knew what he was doing.. and I’m still not convinced it’s working as it should be.
Compare that to the attentive and high standard of work by our Portuguese workers… well actually there’s no comparison. We’ve found a lovely plumber who drops everything if we need him and turns up within the hour if we have an emergency… and the most amazing painter Joaquim who has done a fab job painting inside and outside our house.. 7 coats of paint on our inside walls… and he is the tidiest and most conscientious worker, with a liking for ice tea limão at 11am and a beer at 5pm!
We arrived at the house this time to find our basic and tired boiler had given up the ghost, so we dropped in at the little electrical shop in the village which is run by a Portuguese father and son. Papa speaks no English but can do that fantastic Portuguese ‘shrug’ which can mean so many different phrases! Son David speaks great English (phew!) but wasn’t there.. so Papa said come back in an hour… fine, off we go to sit in the square with a coffee… by the time we have ordered our coffees Papa and David are driving past us to go up to our house to sort out the boiler! Half an hour later, boiler back in action and they refuse to charge us anything. We decided to go for a better model anyway and they were back fitting it the next day. All tidied up and finished in an hour, with free servicing thrown in for good measure. Somehow I doubt we’d get that service back in the UK?
Being brave enough to try to speak Portuguese probably helps us now, the builder we have working here this week was recommended locally and I can now manage a phone call which goes along the lines of ‘my name is… I live at.. and I have work for you..” in Portuguese – which seems to suffice!
We have come out this time mainly to sort out work and the jobs we want to have done but it has not been all work and we had a lovely day out on the West Coast, rabbit stew at a little restaurant at Odeceixe is such a treat! This was the beach there this week:
And so back to the housework! We shall continue to use local workers when we can, and keep trying to learn the language. And if all else fails, we can always draw lots of pictures of what we want and wave our arms around a lot! And keep providing the beer at 5pm!