In 2021's final flickering light, OUTSIDELEFT's friends give one last quiet thought for the days gone by, beginning with DJ Fuzzyfelt
Snowed in, in our caravan a thousand feet up a Welsh hillside. Discover Lhasa Apsos think snow is the greatest thing ever. Shih Tzus not so keen... Water froze and boiler broke.Thank goodness for a Calor Gas heater, and tap down the hill, and an electric kettle.
Soundtrack for the month: Burial-Tunes 2011-2019
Snowed in for a fortnight. Snow finally melts. Local farmboy crashes into the other half. Wife suffering from shock, car a write off. Big buy...A tourer caravan for £650.
Soundtrack for the month: Is This Desire Demos-PJ Harvey
No snow gloomy weather. See lots of lambs wearing little plastic coats-is this to save time packaging them after they've met their end...Preparing to do something without knowing whether we'll be allowed to do it.
Soundtrack for the month: Flock by Jane Weaver
We can do what we want to do. Hook up £650 caravan to new barely legal car, pick up double cooker from a garage in Telford and head for Portsmouth... Not allowed on ferry. Our vet has filled in incorrect paperwork for dogs. Our vet fully compensates us for mucking up and we catch ferry to Santander. No paperwork check at all and we're away. Stopped at Portuguese border by police who do check our residency papers and we're in.
Tear a great chunk of £650 caravans back off getting it down a track to where we'll stay. A very strong Irishman literally punches it back into place with his bare fist...
Soundtrack for the month: Godspeed You! Black Emperors new album
Spend the month knocking plaster of the walls of our little house that we are making habitable. We complete about half of what we need to do and also take down a couple of wood frame walls. We find out later that if we'd had a jet washer and a chainsaw we could've done it all in a couple of days...
Soundtrack for the month: Hotel Lisbon by Dead Combo
30C+ on the Central Portuguese plains but still we toil with our two €5 hammers and our two €4.99 crowbars until the heat gets too much and we just manage to catch the ferry back to the UK after forgetting that Spain is an hour ahead of Portugal. Problems with dogs papers as rules have changed in the last 8 weeks but the vets sort it and away we go. Nearly 12 hours to drive from Plymouth to North Wales as everybody in the UK suddenly appears to be going somewhere after 15 months of being stuck indoors...
Soundtrack for the month: Anything by Parliament or Funkadelic.
Gloomy, cold and wet... read a number of books republished by Little Toller Books, and Under the Rock by Benjamin Myers.
Soundtrack for the month: The World We Knew OST by The Liminanas
Its still raining. Should I just wear a wetsuit and be damned! The local village community cafes are open again so wet walks are rewarded with hot brews and homemade cakes before tramping back up the hills to our caravan. Notice that it's so cold and wet that our cabbages and spinach in pots haven't had their usual caterpillar infestation.
Soundtrack for the month: loads of the Lux and Ivy compilations on Righteous Records.I wonder if Poison Ivy actually has anything to do with them whatsoever...
Back to Portugal via Spain on the ferry. They've changed the rules of travel for dogs again. We're sent to a vets for more paperwork and leave £150 lighter... Make ferry 11 minutes before departure... Still we're first off and are driving through Bilbao 16 minutes after the ferry docks...
Soundtrack for the month: Feminina by The Legendary Tigerman
We now have a builder/project manager who speeds us along somewhat with the build though it's still destruction rather than construction.
Soundtrack for the month: Anything on twang crazy Chaputa Records-Straight Outta Porto.
It rains and the cellar of our house to be floods. Our neighbour looks down into the depths, looks up, smiles and exclaims 'Jacuzzi!' I like Diogo. Let's add making an inside out swimming pool in the cellar to the to do list... I spend the rest of the month fretting that my minimal retirement lump sum isn't going to cover everything. The vineyard owner next door invites me and the builder round for a drink. Turns out he's a priest who learnt his excellent English whilst working in Kosovo for the UN Mission. We think we're getting wine, we actually get an espresso cup of his homemade bilberry liqueur and an espresso cup of aguadente both of which are delicious but so strong that me and the builder have to knock off early and go to the local café to drink numerous strong coffees before we dare drive home. I dread to think what the lovely priest gives his parishioners during communion!
Soundtrack for the month: Astro Tough by Audiobooks
Having to remove all the old wood from our build but have now had training to use a chainsaw. Buy a ticket to see The Legendary Tigerman in Coimbra the Oxbridge of Portugal. 10% off everything in the venue café/bar if your ticket is purchased in advance. My first gig since Stereolab in September 2019....
Soundtrack for the month: Is anything by Dead Combo as Pedro Gonçalves, who was one of their two founder members died of cancer a week or so ago.
Dead Combos music combined fado, flamenco, jazz, Rock'n'Roll, and a dozen other elements... There's the almost obligatory Mark Lanegan vocal on a couple of tracks as well as even a Gun Club cover, again with Lanegan, however Gonçalves alongside other main man To Trips were their own men and their music was/is totally unique. There's plenty on YouTube and streaming sites. Turn the lights down low and give them a listen.
Nadolig Hapus! Feliz Natal! Merry Christmas!
Main Image: Screen Grab from Dead Combo's Povo Que Cais Descalco