The Fantastic Fox!

I’m very excited to be able to share with you my interview with Julie Dawn Fox today as part of my series of interviews with other Portugal bloggers.

Many of you will already know Julie from her wonderful My Personal A to Z Challenge  and her own blog Julie Dawn Fox is full of colour, life and energy – Julie is a lovely person who describes herself as:

“a freelance writer with a strong leaning towards travel writing, although I can turn my hand to other topics. I’m also an English language teacher, a career I chose so that I could indulge my passion for travel.

Originally from the UK, I’ve lived in several countries over the years including Spain, Tanzania and Venezuela and travelled to many others. I have finally put down roots in central Portugal where I live in a tiny village with my husband and dog but that hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for travel” 


So many of us have been captivated by the A to Z Challenge – so I am really thrilled to be able to share with you a little bit more about the person behind the challenge:

1 Why did you start to write your blog?

It started out as a space for me to practice writing. At first, I had no particular focus and I’d write about unrelated topics in fits and starts but these days, I try to stick to things which are related to Portugal and to post at least once a week.

2 Why did you choose Portugal to live?

I’d been living in countries that were at least a full day’s travel away from my friends and family back in the UK and felt the need to be a bit closer to them, and to be back in Europe as I wanted to put down some roots. I wasn’t prepared to go back to live in the UK and was looking for work in Spain when I noticed a couple of jobs advertised in Portugal. I did a bit of research and liked what I found so I was delighted to be offered a job in Coimbra.


Flying the flags: European Union, Portugal and Santa Comba Dão

3 What do you love most about where you live?

The view from our house – green hills all around and a river below. I even wrote a post about why I like living in central Portugal.

View of Moura Morta

View of Moura Morta

4 Is there anything you miss about the UK?

Cheese.  Cheddar, especially, although I’ve found a supplier here and am keeping my fingers crossed that they stock up again because I bought the last packet they had. Portuguese cheese can be delicious, too but very expensive.

And friends and family, of course.

5 Quick choice:

  • Mac or PC? PC
  • Starter or dessert? Starter
  • Early morning or late night? Late night, without a doubt
  • Air con or log fire? Log fire
  • XFactor or Strictly Come Dancing? Neither

6 What book(s) are you reading now?

Portugal a Pé by Nuno Ferreira

Indian Summer by Will Randall

7 Do you have a role model or someone who has inspired you?

I don’t have a role model as such although there are many people I admire for their energy, supportiveness and commitment. I remain in awe of the authors who have held me spellbound with their stories – one day, I’d like to be able to do the same.

8 What blogs and web-sites do you read regularly?

I’ve been enjoying getting to know new blogs through My Personal A to Z Challenge. I’m learning a lot about other countries and cultures and meeting some fantastic people.

9 For people new to your blog, where should they start?

Anywhere, really. Just click on something that takes your fancy in the category cloud or maybe have a look at my Personal A to Z of Portugal posts.

10 What is your favourite meal to order in a restaurant?

Polvo à Lagareiro – octopus served in olive oil with batatas a murro – baby baked potatoes that have been gently crushed so that the oil soaks into the flesh.

11 What were your best subjects at school, and do they relate to your work now?

English – I teach it as a foreign language now and am working on fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming a writer.

12 Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about starting their own blog?

Stick with it. It takes time to build an audience and find your rhythm and style so be patient with yourself.  And it really does help to have a focus for your blog rather than keep it totally random. The more choices I have, the harder I find it to make a decision so now that I’ve limited my blog to matters related to Portugal, I have to work around that and I find it actually helps me come up with ideas.

Esplanade, River Mondega, Coimbra

Esplanade, River Mondega, Coimbra

13 Where else can we find you on the web or in print – any books, articles, Facebook or Twitter account?

I’m on Twitter @juliedawnfox

my Facebook page is

I have a blog on AngloINFO

and I set up for Personal A to Z bloggers

You can find some of my articles on

14 Can you share one thing about yourself that we would never know about you from reading your blog?

I’ve just taught myself how to crochet and am working on a granny blanket. My husband thinks it’s hilarious.

15 For people considering a move to live abroad, what would you recommend they do first?

Research and prepare as much as possible. If you can, spend some time in the new place before committing yourself. If not, try to get in touch with expats who have been there a while through expat forums and find out about the things which are important to you.

16 Can you name three favourite places you would recommend people visit if they are on holiday here in Portugal?

It really depends on what people are into but Sintra is magical, there’s something for everyone in Lisbon and the hilltop castles in the Alentejo, such as Marvão and Castelo da Vide are worth going to for completely different scenery and boulders in the wilderness.

View from Marvão castle

View from Marvão castle

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?

Find the expats. They’ve been through the starting out bit already and can help with advice and contacts. There are plenty of forums and websites geared towards expats in Portugal so look around. But don’t limit your contacts to fellow foreigners. Try to establish relationships with local people, too.

Don’t let your lack of language skills put you off trying to get things done. There are services out there, such as Helping Hands Portugal, who can do the talking (or writing) for you if you need it.

18 How’s your Portuguese and what would you recommend for people wanting to learn the language?

I’d say my spoken Portuguese is about intermediate level. I can get what I need in most situations and hold conversations if people are patient with me but I know I make lots of mistakes and I simply don’t have enough vocabulary to express myself well.  I need to start lessons again because I want to be fluent.

I think it’s crucial for anyone living long-term in another country to learn the language so start as soon as you can – before you move there if possible. Finding a local language class will help you make friends as well as structure your learning and give you real people to practice with so find out what’s available in your area.

19 What is your favourite:

  • Film? Monsoon Wedding
  • Book? A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  • Album/Music? Dreadzone,  Second Light
  • Gadget? corkscrew

20 And finally, where do you think you will be in five years’ time, and what will you be doing?

Still living here in the same house in Portugal writing yet another bestselling book! There’s no harm in dreaming, right?

Thanks Julie – don’t forget to check out Julie’s blog Julie Dawn Fox 

Thanks again Julie for such a lovely interview – and also for allowing me to use some of the beautiful images from your blog too (all images on this post are copyright Julie Dawn Fox – click on an image for more information)

And here’s an extra treat for you all – we’re in this week’s Algarve Resident newspaper:

Algarve Resident article 23 03 2012

You might just be able to read it – or it’s in the local Algarve shops this week! Fame at last! 🙂

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13 Responses to The Fantastic Fox!

  1. Pingback: Sharing a Sardinian Life with you « the Thought Palette

  2. restlessjo says:

    Caught me out with your clever title- I thought it was a book review! Glad Julie found time for this. It must be cold there evenings if she’s crocheting granny blankets! Another useful skill I’ll be able to use when I come out there to live.

    Going directly to your Jennifer interview as I follow that blog too.

  3. sami veloso says:

    Lovely interview with Julie. Seeing that flag from Santa Comba Dão, reminded me I lived 15km away from that town. I do agree that once in a new country you should learn the language, I think however bad you speak, if you make the effort the locals love it and will actually try and speak your language if they can. The “Helping hands” site is so useful, didn´t know about it.

  4. Sunshine says:

    Congratulations and thank you for letting me know about the Facebook ABC page. Abundant blessings to you and your blog. 🙂

    • ferragudofan says:

      you’re very welcome

    • ferragudofan says:

      just to keep everyone up to date – this is the message I am sending bloggers who have been given the ABC Award:

      Congratulations on your ABC Award!
      As the originator of this award you may be interested to know that I have now set up a Facebook group for all bloggers who have been given the ABC Award – a place for you to meet new bloggers, and share and support each other. You can join the group here:
      Please also let any other bloggers, that you know have been given the award, know about this group too – then we can all ‘spread the word’
      I have also set up a Facebook page – the ABC Award – where you can now add links to all of your blog posts and writing – share your work with a new audience, gain new readers, and find out what other ABC Award bloggers are writing about.
      You can find the page here:
      Just ‘like’ the page and get started – and do let all your blog readers know about this page – I believe that all of our blogs can only be improved by letting our readers know about other blogs – that way you will also have new readers discover you too!
      Happy blogging – and congratulations again on the ABC Award – you’re awesome!

  5. Pingback: 2012 in words and pictures | Algarve Blog

  6. tchistorygal says:

    Interesting interview. I was inspired to follow Julia. Thanks for sharing. What a great idea!

  7. Excellent article. I really enjoyed this.

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