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A house armed with a blazon

I didn’t know it at all. But yes, maybe not that surprising, because I come from the big city in the western part of the country, and there of course you have large expensive houses, but there is never anything written on them except perhaps “Pondview” or “Home Sweet Home” (names for houses are a bit of an old-fashioned thing).

I came across it for the first time in Portugal: a house with a blazon

I worked for a real estate agent – that seemed like a very good idea to find something nice for ourselves – in the “rural” department. I was taken under the wing of the oldest employee with the most experience in this field, and so we flew across half the country.

Also a fun way to get to know Portugal better!

The real estate agent, José, Zé for short, was quite ambitious and visited every small palace, country house or outsized country house. I have seen an incredible amount of decay. A lot of it was eaten by the woodworm, so you first had to stomp on the remains of the wooden floor to see if it would still hold up. That you didn’t go in one step from the attic to the basement.

Holes in the roofs, rusted junk in the shed, but also getting out and almost falling off your stilts because you look up at a kind of pink cream cake with turrets and a huge staircase in front of it that stands on a super high mound. It was clear that these people felt superior to the villagers and everyone else, and they had no intention of dealing with such a poor broker to sell their cake. He only drove a Rover… but they had no blazon, only an attitude.

Or a house with a blazon, and everything to it, on and in it

White gloves on the back of the elegant sofa, as if the residents were going to the opera and something went wrong at the last minute. The treadle sewing machine was set up in the sewing room, the pans were ready for use in the kitchen, and the wine cellar was still full. What had happened here?

( I may not ask, according to mentor Zé, it’s neither polite nor discreet nor civilized. Too bad. I’m not curious but I like to know everything.)

At the next address we were greeted more warmly, especially because I had learned that as a younger woman you greet an older woman respectfully with two formal kisses on the cheek. At least if the latter lives in a house with a blazon. You don’t do that with her husband, because that’s not appreciated. Zé avoided kissing, as a portuguese man you are never allowed to do that unless you know the people well.

Logically. I’m at an age now where I should play the role of that older woman and undergo the two formal cheek kisses, but times have changed, and we don’t do that anymore.

Great. I don’t really need to. And besides, I don’t have a blazon

Next house was in Tras-os-Montes, where they say it is “9 meses Inverno, 3 meses Inferno” – 9 months of winter, 3 months of hell. Beautiful wooden ceilings, amazing wooden floors, finger-licking parquet here and there, chimneys, marble window frames, decorated doors, cute kitchen cabinets, a bedroom with a four-poster bed you’ll never leave, a garden with a hundred thousand different fruit trees and a a well-kept vegetable garden – a paradise.

For three times nothing, because who wants to live here. And no blazon.

Then I didn’t understand it anymore. A squeaky house that is nothing special has a coat of arms above the door, and this one doesn’t?

Naming your house may be an old habit, but a coat of arms is completely old-fashioned. It dates back to the Middle Ages, and back then it was a good way to indicate who you were. Your blazon on a stick at the side of the battlefield, and then you approach those other guys with a different blazon.

Not only (noble) families or individuals could show off like this, but also companies, cities and nations. The very first logos, so to speak. It is often accompanied by eagles, lions and large oak trees.

It seems that we as a family also have a coat of arms, at least that is what my brother-in-law once discovered when he started doing genealogy. It doesn’t look like much, a kind of damsel with 3 cherries in front of her near a tree – a cherry tree I assume. I suspect it’s a joke, actually.

A bit of a mess, but hey, such a blazon suits our family perfectly.


We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal.

A big step, especially with two small children.

We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday houses, rooms and a campsite.

You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation

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