I am very excited today – one of my favourite blogs, and the main inspiration for starting my own blog, is the excellent Moving to Portugal blog which is full of useful information and a very entertaining read. I have often read the blog wondering about the author, Ben, and wishing I could find out a bit more about him. So, I thought I’d be cheeky and contacted him, asking if he’d be willing to be interviewed, and answer ’20 questions’ – I was delighted when he agreed – and he also suggested that I complete the same 20 questions – so here are Ben’s answers, and you can find my answers on Ben’s blog – link here
I hope you all enjoy Ben’s answers as much as I have – and there are some surprises in here too!
1 Why did you start to write your blog?
I figured moving abroad was such a big life-change that it would be nice to look back on it in years to come. To start with it was just a personal project and I only told a few family members I was doing it. Once I actually got to Portugal I decided to “go public” about its existence and its popularity came as a lovely surprise!
2 Why did you choose Portugal to live?
Weather, friendly people, great food and a slower pace of life than London.
3 What do you love most about where you live?
Peace and quiet, seeing stars at night, and hearing crickets and frogs from the terrace. I also love it when the place comes alive in the summer—for a couple of months the crickets, frogs and stars are replaced by bass-beats, caipirinhas, and watching drunk tourists stumble home!
4 Is there anything you miss about the UK?
The variety of food we had in London is probably the thing we miss the most – although we love Portuguese cuisine, we miss easy access to other types of food, specifically Thai, Greek and good burgers. We also miss our local bar—the whole “where everybody knows your name” thing.
5 Quick choice:
- Mac or PC?
Mac. I recently switched, and actually have a blog about it (link)
- Starter or dessert?
- Early morning or late night?
Late night. I would love to be a morning person but I just wasn’t made that way.
- Air con or log fire?
Air con. I’d rather be too cold indoors than too hot.
- XFactor or Strictly Come Dancing?
Neither – don’t even get me started!
6 What book(s) are you reading now?
As always I have several on the go. Right now, Jermaine Jackson’s biography of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. “I, Partridge,” the fictional autobiography of Alan Partridge, a Susan Hill murder mystery, and Enid Blyton’s first “Famous Five” book in Portuguese, to help me with the language learning!
7 Do you have a role model or someone who has inspired you?
The person who springs to mind is Alice Griffin, a fellow writer and dreamer, and someone else who has been brave enough to follow her heart and step off the hamster wheel.
8 What blogs and web-sites do you read regularly?
I’m a regular on various expat forums and spend far too much time on Facebook, something I am trying to cut back on!
9 For people new to your blog, where should they start?
The beginning, ideally!….but there are now about three years worth of posts. A good place is the recap post I did at the start of this year, which links to some of the most popular or significant posts since I started. (link)
10 What is your favourite meal to order in a restaurant?
As I cook a lot myself, I will usually go for something that I am not confident in preparing myself – often squid, clams or other shellfish.
11 What were your best subjects at school, and do they relate to your work now?
Computer studies, English and French. I now spread my time between IT consultancy and writing so I guess it was a logical progression! Sadly, although I kept up my French after school, it has completely left me since I started learning Portuguese. It seems there is only room for one foreign language in my little brain!
12 Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about starting their own blog?
Do it because you have a passion for the subject yourself and only see gaining readers as a bonus. It’s really not a case of “build it and they will come,” so you need the motivation to keep it going when it seems nobody is reading!
13 Where else can we find you on the web or in print – any books, articles, Facebook or Twitter account?
Quite a few places nowadays! I write for “A Place in the Sun” magazine in the UK, and also do a weekly newsletter for the Overseas Guides Company I have various other articles dotted around, including lots of computer-related things that I’m sure are of no interest to anyone reading this!
14 Can you share one thing about yourself that we would never know about you from reading your blog?
I was a precocious child actor and appeared as an extra in various UK TV shows including “You Rang M’Lord,” “Allo Allo,” and “Highway,” with Harry Secombe!
15For people considering a move to live abroad, what would you recommend they do first?
Research, research and research some more, and take seriously the advice offered from those who have already done it. The moves that end in tears are those where people view everything through rose-tinted glasses – living abroad is SO different from being on holiday, and even though we thought we were applying considerable realism, many things still surprised us.
16 Can you name three favourite places you would recommend people visit if they are on holiday here in the Algarve?
Praia da Rocha, near Portimao. It’s a bit tacky, but the beach is amazing and off-season in good weather it is paradise. It’s the first place we came to in Portugal and a large chunk of my heart remains there.
Pego do Inferno. The East Algarve’s “secret” waterfall. Sadly people will have to wait until next year as it is currently closed for repair work.
Lagos. Probably our favourite Algarve town.
17 Do you have any tips or tricks for anyone who has just arrived to live here in Portugal? And is there anything you wish you had found out or discovered sooner about living out here?
Don’t be scared to use what Portuguese you know – it will be appreciated. Also, don’t lose sight of the reasons you moved. Every now and then we have to have a word with ourselves when we start working too hard, staying glued to our laptops and eating takeaways.
18 How’s your Portuguese and what would you recommend for people wanting to learn the language?
It’s OK—not as good as my wife’s. I suggest taking lessons…. we are now very competent in certain situations – restaurants, shops, petrol stations etc. because we have gone through them dozens of times, but without lessons you don’t move to the next level.
19 What is your favourite:
Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown,” as much for the soundtrack as for the movie itself.
“What a Carve Up” by Jonathan Coe, I always recommend it to people.
Picking just one album is too hard, I have over 15,000 tracks in my iTunes! Most of my listening time at the moment is spent with soul, funk, motown and disco..
My MacBook Pro. I adore using it as much as I did the day I got it.
20 And finally, where do you think you will be in five years’ time, and what will you be doing?
I’d like to think I will still be in the Algarve, as right now I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be, Hopefully by then we may have a property of our own – nothing big or too special required,but a plunge pool would be nice! I hope by then there may be a couple of bi-lingual kids kicking about too!
Huge thanks to Ben for being willing to answer these questions – and I hope that next time you read his blog you will be able to ‘picture’ him a bit more clearly….
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Wow, thanks for this Alyson! I didn’t know of this blog and can see I have quite a bit of catching up to do. Having read a little already I find myself in agreement with a lot Ben says and look forward to reading more.
We’ve had a home in Tavira for 8 years and are determined one day to live there. Meantime we’ve met some great people on our trips out and are building a good foundation we hope for when we finally make the move.
you’re welcome Jo, I’ve really enjoyed Ben’s blog too – there’s plenty to catch up on there – you’ll have to bookmark it all for those long winter evenings ahead…
and we really must explore more of Tavira – everyone keeps telling me how beautiful it is – we’ve done the odd day trip but I think we’ll have to dig deeper!
Great interview and I too love Jackie Brown 😉 and thanks so much for saying I inspire you – genuinely touched. I guess all of us bloggers, writers, dreamers and step-off-the-hamster-wheel-ers are here to inspire each other!
thanks Alice – I really enjoyed ‘interviewing’ Ben – and now I have new recommends to explore – including your web-site! 🙂
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Great interview, really insightful. Perhaps helpful to anyone looking to move to Portugal and unsure where to start, Imovirtual have recently written some articles on some of the best neighbourhoods to live in some of the big cities in Portugal. There’s certainly so much choice, as Portugal is a beautiful country.