Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - July 2014

Hello there and welcome! Mid-July feels even hotter than mid-June and blooms don't last very long in my Algarve garden, but here are some of my best.
red hibiscus
The red hibiscus has suddenly burst into colour. The blooms are a darker red than they appear in the photos and they are larger than last year. The yellow shrub is only starting to bloom now but should go on well into autumn.
yellow hibiscus bloom

My favourite lavender is enormous! A friend fell in love with it during a recent visit and will be getting one of its babies soon.
my favourite lavender

Below is the view from the other side. On the right you can see a little bit of that lavender, The two rose bushes that I had to move because they were getting overcrowded by the lavenders seem to have tolerated the move very well. There is still a bit of soil that I am watching closely. Will the gardener be right? Will the grass grow back? Did my smothering method of killing grass turn out to be successful? Time will tell...
where there was grass...

As you open the gate, it brushes against the overgrown lavender and you are greeted with its scent - lovely! If you look right, this is the view you get: lavenders, rosemary, the oleander, and against the wall the hibiscus, mock orange foliage, some white roses and the neighbour's creeper.
garden long view

I didn't think my lilies would open in time for this post, but they did.

Some of my roses are blooming again, others will be some time soon and this one is the best-looking one right now.
In this heat, my hardest job is giving the plants the amount of water they need to stay happy. 

Now I'm off to link to May Dreams Gardens, where Bloom Day began. How is your garden doing?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Not the Tour de France

Police sirens wailing, making our cars pull over, is a VIP going to the beach on a cloudy day?
No, it's a local cycling event! Our very own "tour".
Just time to pull out the camera and take a hurried photo of some of the cyclists.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Not quite in holiday mode

School has finally broken up for the summer holidays and I'm not working on a tight schedule any more - just writing reports, helping students who have exams and invigilating exams when necessary. Some days I can stay home all day but I'm finding it hard to catch up on the many tasks on my to-do list. Inertia has set in and I can lie on the sofa for hours napping. Whenever I feel guilty about not being productive, I remind myself that I need time to recover from the end of school year stress...

I welcome just about any excuse to put off the jobs that don't appeal to me. On Friday a friend who I hadn't seen in almost a year turned up at my gate, so we had a long chat, a few laughs and went for some retail therapy. Nothing got done, but I had a fun afternoon!

Border collie cross?
"Take Pandora to obedience classes" is one of the more pleasant tasks on my to-do list.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - June 2014

Boy was it hot today (or should I say yesterday)!
It's past midnight and there is a heady scent in my cooler moonlit garden.

It's quite pleasant now but during the day there was a lot of wilting going on.
rose bed
This is the most colourful part of the garden at the moment, but the red roses on the left can't take this heat, even though I put up an umbrella over them. And my feathery lavender has died (it's a good thing I took some cuttings before its demise!).

potting up petunias
I love petunias, so I potted up 6 yesterday. Here you can see 2 of them. The problem is I have to keep moving them into the shade or this heat will destroy all my hard work!

I think the only flowers that are quite happy are the agapanthus. This is the first time I have some blue blooms from plants that I brought down from my parents' garden. The oleanders are starting to bloom, too, but some blooms look small and withered already.


One of these lavenders doesn't look too happy.

The other one was having a bee and butterfly love-in this morning.
Attracting wildlife

And behind this lavender is the new bed, almost ready for planting. I smothered the grass in autumn and waited, and waited, and grew impatient, and frustrated when the gardener said it wouldn't work. Finally, I removed the black plastic and some remaining cardboard this week. It didn't look too bad. Now I'm just waiting to see if grass will start growing again - I hope not. Only when I'm sure it's OK will I start planting here.

They say temperatures will drop 10 degrees Celsius in the coming week. I can't wait!

Soon I'll visit May Dreams Gardens, where Carole hosts Bloom Day and look around mainly cooler gardens in other regions. Why don't you join me?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Who's playing silly buggers?

Warning: this is a rant. I'll forgive you if you don't read it.
If, however, you live in Portugal, you may find some of the information useful.

As if I didn't have enough to do, it being end-of-year madness at school, I have to deal with cable TV/mobile phone/Internet providers playing silly buggers.

Complaints against companies providing these services are very frequent.  I have complained twice before - once I eventually won, once I eventually gave up.

This week I got a weird message on my mobile phone (not MEO). The message was from MEO, though (MEO is one of the main cable TV, mobile phone and Internet providers).

It thanked me for signing up to one of its services  -  called M4O. That was weird because I hadn't signed up to anything, as it happens.
 But the message went on to say that the "mobiles would be activated in a few days".

So I went on to the client support site (my broadband is MEO) to find how to ask for an explanation.

Couldn't find a way to complain without making a phone call - at my expense - and we all know how long and expensive those calls can be. 

There was a client satisfaction questionnaire, so I tried to use that.
Got a message thanking me for my feedback - very helpful!

The next day I got an automated call from MEO!
"Had my service been successfully activated, press 0 for yes, press 1 for no" (or something like that) - I pressed the number for NO! 
"Would I recommend MEO to other people?" You can guess what I pressed! 
At the third question, I hung up.

Silly buggers weren't going to go away and I would have to deal with them before they turned into expensive silly buggers.

I went back to the client support site and eventually found a contact form where I outlined the problem.

But today I had to drive to one of their shops because I got yet another message from MEO which informed me that the signing up process was complete and the service was activated for the stand minimum period of 24 months!

I showed the nice girl behind the counter the messages and outlined the problem again. 
She agreed it was weird. She checked and said my mobile phone number wasn't on their register associated with any M4O service. 
So why was I receiving the messages? "Probably a wrong number," she said, hoping that I would leave it at that. 
No, I wasn't leaving without the problem being registered officially in writing. If it's not in writing, it doesn't count, as another couple with a complaint were finding out at the counter beside me.

I could feel the people behind me in the line fuming, but my problem got written down officially and I have a copy!

So, what do I find in my email inbox? A swift reply to the contact form I had sent in the day before.
What did it say?
"Please phone 16200 to inform what kind of service you are referring to and who signed up for it so that we can process your complaint!"

All I can say is they can't read/didn't read my text or love playing silly buggers!

No wonder they get so many complaints!

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