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Glutenfree holiday and the BBB

“We discovered a special store,” Jeanne texts, “so we fly, do the shopping, and then drive to you. Good plan, huh? Then we’ll be there mid-afternoon.”

For a gluten-free holiday you apparently have to go to a special store in Lisbon

When she recently asked if and what I knew about gluten-free products, I unfortunately had to admit my ignorance in that area. Our food is probably full of gluten, I’ve never had to pay attention to it. Yes, years ago, when we had a gluten-free volunteer. But he knew exactly what he could and couldn’t eat, and he did his own shopping, so that wasn’t really an issue.

“It’s not that bad!” Jeanne shouts when they arrive a little later than planned, “the highways are really well, it’s just that the small roads here drive you crazy! And in the supermarket we visited along the way, they have all sorts of gluten-free options – so that’s no problem! Hey, how nice to be here again…!” Jeanne is still as enthusiastic and warm as she was twenty years ago.

Then she was here with her Ab, now twenty years later with her daughter. “Appie is also a bit present, you know …” she says with a sideways look up, “He really hasn’t been forgotten. And you haven’t gotten any fatter bytheway.” Daughter Cynthia is standing next to her, chuckling a bit, she’s used to this. Me too, I’m the youngest sister – how much comments do you think you get entering a room full of sisters?

You can’t give me greater pleasure than to be who you are, especially when you have so much warmth to spread.

In the week that follows we regularly have (gluten-free) cups and glasses and reminisce

They were here in 2001, when we hadn’t even completely carved our village out of the blackberries. Blackberries thrive on decay, and they have a somewhat prickly character. Ab, I remember, brought us into the computer age – we just had regular electricity, through a plug, just like everyone else (before that it was the generator on every now and then), and the internet had just been discovered by the masses.

We pretty much moved in the same circles in Rotterdam, so names are thrown around here and there. All those people, what a long time ago, and what a different life!

On Sunday morning we go to the market in Louriçal. “First the most important thing: a cup of coffee with a bolo, in the sun,” I say, and then: “Oh, but of course you can’t do that, a bolo …” “It’s okay, I’m used to it,” Cynthia laughs, “I always have a cookie or something with me, so I just join in.”

If I were to reproduce such a coffee chat, dear reader, you would be confused. It goes from here to there, from seriousness to fun, from the past to the future – but all three of us know exactly how it works, and it makes perfect sense to us. I now know a lot more about gluten-free, and that it is quite fun to be a technical teaching assistant, and that you can have an app on your phone that knows what kind of tree or plant you have in front of you.

I now know that Jeanne also had a B&B for many years, in the converted coach house in her backyard, which ran very well, and that she walked the neighbors’ dogs, and probably – but that’s my guess – was the hub of the whole neighborhood. And that the Film Festival is still a lot of fun, and that Cynthia met her husband at the final of the Rotterdam Street Theater Festival.

There he was the gentleman who had to get the confetti and the juggled cones and-so-on from the stage, and he was doing that in such a fun way that he almost won the main prize. In any case, he was Cynthia’s grand prize, and she took him home. And that Dutch politics and the formation of the new government is becoming a joke.

“But we’re not going to talk about the BBB (*),”

says Jeanne, after she told me that she was sitting on a terrace and heard the leader of the BBB orating from inside the café about how things should be done differently. One platitude after another. “No, we don’t… “ I agree with her, “Caroline may have substance, but it is mainly in her coat… that might be a good sales idea for my bathrobes/kimonos – a BBB-Robe!”

“Nice addition to your offering,” Jeanne laughs, “let’s talk about that BBB – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes.”

“Would you pose for a picture with a few robes?” I ask, “I did that pre-Covid; ask my guests to pose and put those on the internet to show them. Let’s take a photo with the three of us in a robe – nice memory, nice promotion, and also nice for the blog. Because, I meant to ask you too: can I write a blog about you?”

“Good sales technique,” says Jeanne with a wink, “because we are taking both robes with us. Can you see me sitting on my roof terrace with this?” Cynthia nods, and tries her coat on the other side – she has one that can be worn outside in and inside out. With pockets and loops for the belt and all.

Hand on my heart: it wasn’t even a sales technique. I just wanted a nice photo for the blog and for the upcoming renewed webshop…

P.S. For the gluten-sensitive people among you: there is no problem buying gluten-free products, you can find them everywhere in every supermarket, and it is usually stated large on the packaging. Gluten is the same word in Portuguese, you just pronounce it a little differently.

(*) BBB party in the Netherlands is called BoerBurgerBeweging, translated as FarmerCitizenMovement, and Caroline Van der Plas is the leader of this movement.


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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