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The Red Van is driving again

Regular service Rotterdam – Azenha – Rotterdam, with an irregular timetable, has been restored. The Red Van is driving again, in fact: it has already driven!

Always a party when the Red Van arrives

Certainly not only because of all the stuff that’s in there, certainly also because of the people on board. When we first arrived, in 2000, Portuguese life was a bit different. As elsewhere, by the way, because we are talking about the pre-smartphone era. Even the internet was still in its infancy.

When you needed things, you went to the hardware store. There was one in Paião, 10 kilometers away, and one in Figueira (25 km). The one in Paião took the most time, but had most of the stuff we needed to rebuild the newly acquired village.

You did need patience and time

All customers stood neatly in front of the counter, joking and chatting, because everything was taken from behind. Every nail and screw. Self-service was also still in its infancy here. If you needed furniture, you went to the carpenter, or to a very expensive store where they only had classic items. Nice, but not quite my taste. And not my budget either.

My brother bought an old van from the Postal Services, a big red Mercedes. He drove here, loaded with the furniture of our recently deceased mother. And big jars of peanut butter. Licorice. Old cheese. And a lot more stuff and books from people who knew he was going, and wanted to give something nice.

We have decorated half the village with it.

One fine day even a piano came along. A lawnmower tractor. A complete couch. Beds-with-a-motor-so that-you-can-sit-upright. And once with a large water pump behind it, purchased with good intentions by my brother-in-law after the big fire of 2005. After proven services, it was eventually donated to the fire brigade in Soure. It has quickly become a tradition that the Red Van came at least once a year. Sometimes so fully loaded that it was a miracle that my brother got out of his bed unscathed, where the whole mess hung almost above it, lashed with straps.

Amazing, what popped out of that Red Van every year

A large blue vase. Boxes full of books (great!) https://termas-da-azenha.com/en/what-to-do-on-holiday-heres-an-idea-read/ . A triangle, drums and other musical instruments. A mountain of green dining room chairs that we still sit on, and that some guests would have liked to take over. They are very comfortable and they look timelessly good too. A pool table. A football table. Lots of board games. Hats, a wig, high heels for the Fancy Dressing Room.

It didn’t happen for two years because of the C-risis, but now it’s back!

Not as full as in the early years, but quite a bit comes out. Lots of books again. Despite the e-reader, real books are still very welcome. My favorite dutch cheese, donated by another sister (Red Sister) who is now roaming America, visiting her oldest daughter (yes, another sister, and Oldest Sister stayed at home). A beautifully hammered bronze-like tray. A collection of buddhas. And the topper: a superdeluxe greenhouse.

That greenhouse is damn difficult to set up if you are to believe the instructions, but with combined forces we will certainly be able to do it.

Things are being done. Reading a book in your easy chair in the sun is nice, but you can’t sit the whole day. A chore in the vegetable garden is welcome. The nespereira is packed, it’s a good year (fruit trees always do a year on, a year off, except for the oranges because they just keep going until they drop) so that’s going to be jam.

Sister Net is doing the peeling, while Sister Tien asks google how to do it. You can’t see Sister Me, because I’m sitting in the tree, picking fruit, while Only Brother points at the side where I should be. This is how the tasks are divided. Because of all the negotiations, exchange of experiences and google in between, it hasn’t become jam but jelly.

Very important.

More importantly, despite our age, we are together for a while. The family is always the nicest thing that comes out of that Red Van!


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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