Going out

London with a dog

Frank at Forty Hall

I am a cat person, but after we lost both our cats recently (one literally lost, the other died from a long-term kidney issue) we decided to get a dog.

Having a puppy (a whippet, his name is Frank) is almost like having a baby again. For one, like babies — and unlike cats —, you have to teach them everything. Also, you have to do some planning when going out: do they let dogs in (or, do they have space for buggies, are they child-friendly), how long are we spending in the car/train/walking, how are we going to entertain him, can we time things so he’s tired and napping?

It’s interesting to see London from this new perspective, it’s like discovering an entire new city I hadn’t really noticed before.

For example, last weekend we visited Forty Hall in Enfield. We already loved their wines, and found out it’s dog and child friendly so we thought it would be a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon. It was. Before Frank, I’d have been happy to just keep buying their wine from our local deli without setting foot on the estate.

I must confess though, I can’t wait for him to grow out of the crazed puppy months (years? it’s getting better…), and I’m very jealous of any well-behaved, calm, well-trained dog I see. I imagine that once he’s at that stage, we’ll be able to take him to even more places, or at least stay in the places we already enjoy for longer. I guess time will tell.


Brexit, again

Photo by me, in Hampstead

It’s a cloud hanging over our heads. It’s on our mind, hence the double post.

Nicklas and I don’t want to go anywhere, we love our home, our neighbourhood, the life we have in London. I love the idea of Rafael growing up here, of everything that London has to offer. But we know things can change.

We are lucky: our types of jobs allow us to work remotely, we could go back to where we came from. We’d likely lose a lot of money selling our house post-Brexit, but right now that’s not my biggest concern. Leaving the place I most love in the world and where I thought I’d raise my child is — whether because we’re asked to leave or the living conditions deteriorate enough that we need to leave the place where we’ve been for more than half (Nicklas) / a third (me) / all (Rafael) of our lives.



Photo by Duncan Hull

People have asked me what we’re doing about Brexit. My response is usually a shrug. What can we do?

Both Nicklas and I don’t believe we should be required to take British citizenship to live in the UK. That is why we moved here in the first place. So if that turns out to be the case, moving away will be an option.

But we did spawn a British citizen, so what about him? There are no guarantees his citizenship will be untouched, but he’s got two other citizenships to fall back on.

But what about our house? Leyton’s housing market has been good to us, but if thousands of European citizens flee the UK at once, selling the house at a profitable price will be unlikely.

And what about our jobs? Both Nicklas and I are in the extremely privileged position that our jobs allow us to work from anywhere with an internet connection.

Right now, we are burying our heads in the sand and hoping for the best, or at least for the solution that is least disruptive. We want to stay. This is our home. Otherwise, Portugal might get 3 extra residents.


New old home

Rafael drawing in our new office
Photo by me

What a difference (almost) 4 months makes.

We have been back in our home for 3 months. There are plenty of snags to keep us busy for the next few years, but we are home, and the memory of a summer spent moving every week is getting fuzzier and fuzzier.

In the meantime, I managed to slip down the newly sanded and painted stairs (glad it was me, and not Rafael, and, yes, we do need to put carpet back on, it’s on its way). And we’re down one cat, who we believe has found a new, less-under-construction house.

It was only last week that we managed to get the office ready to be used, as the final moving box was opened and emptied.

We’ve had a few visitors since we moved back in, and it’s truly lovely to be able to offer guests a space of their own.

And it’s great to be home for the winter.


Nearly there

OSB stairs bookcase in our home
Photo by me

It’s about 5 weeks since my last post. It’s incredible how much the house has changed since then: we’re down to the final details (if you ignore the fact we have no windows in the loft), and we have a moving-in date!

We’re hoping to be back in our house in two weeks. The builders will still be there for a few more weeks, on and off — not ideal but we don’t want to keep being nomads any longer.

For the past 3 and a half months we’ve moved house 10 times (8 different houses), and have travelled abroad twice — so I guess we moved 12 times. It sounds crazy, but it’s amazing how quickly we got used to it, even Rafael has adapted really well.

It will be strange to be back home, and I’m sure the dust will annoy me immensely, but right now I can’t wait.



Waiting to see the cats at our under construction home
Photo by me

It’s been 9 weeks since we moved out of our home and the builders “moved in”. Since then, we’ve lived in 7 different homes, 8 if you include my parents’ flat in Portugal. That’s 8 moves.

It’s incredible how something you dreaded can quickly become your new normal: I now find it normal to move home every weekend.

We’ve managed to reduce the amount of stuff we lug around with us to one carload, including the three of us and Rafael’s buggy, with some space to spare.

Rafael gets a bit confused sometimes, but he knows his house is “a little bit dirty” and we can’t go back just yet. He’s visited and seems excited about the works.

Hopefully, we’re just a little over the half way point. I can’t wait to be back home, with my things, but I’m so used to being on the move and having to adapt to other people’s homes now that it feels weird to even think about it.

Living Money

Home renovation

My house being gutted
Photo by me

Home ownership is a very grown-up thing, but renovating your house – the kind of renovation that involves planning permission, structural engineers, architects, skips, and steel – feels a lot scarier.

We’ve just started what we hope will be a 3.5-month renovation that involves knocking down walls and lots of structural work across all three floors of our house.

It will be worth it, people tell us. I really do hope so.



Photo by me

Both Nicklas and I have no family living in England, so we have guests quite often. Someone asked me the other day if it’s hard not having family around to help with Rafael. It certainly doesn’t make things easier. We can’t just pop out and drop him off at his granny if we need to buy a new sink. We either ask his babysitter to come over (which costs money and she might not be available) or he’s coming with us (which I’d normally be happy to pay money to avoid).

I’m grateful that we live in London and flights are relatively cheap and fast. And I’m an introvert, so it’s always nice to have the house back to myself after visits. But lately I’ve been noticing how sad it is when our guests leave. They are invariably family, or very close friends, and seeing them leave reminds me of how little we see them compared to what we would were they here (or us there). And most important, how little Rafael sees them and them him. He always has so much fun when there are more people around. The first thing he wants to do when he gets up and we have visitors is to go wake them up in the morning—it’s sad to tell him they’re not here anymore after they’ve left.

Kids Mood

Christmas at home

Christmas Lights - Regent Street
Photo by Gerry Balding

Last year we didn’t get to spend Christmas in London.

We had a wonderful time in Panama, visiting family and friends, exploring the islands and the city — we made some truly beautiful memories. But the fact that I was missing the wintery London Christmas made me, nonetheless, a little bit blue.

This year, we are staying home and I’m loving it. I’ve been doing the final gift and food shopping these last few days, worrying about whether I’m forgetting something (as if we’re preparing for some kind of apocalypse).

We’ve got the leg of lamb, potatoes and vegetables, the Swedish food from IKEA, and all the ingredients necessary to make some Portuguese Christmas treats. Rafael’s older brothers are coming over and they will all get to decorate the tree and spend loads of time together. And we might even go into town during Boxing Day!

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Having an electric car in London

An electric car and charging point
Photo by Department for Communities and Local Government (mine is blue too)

A few months ago our car broke down as we were leaving a car dealership after a test drive. The car had served us well for over a year, but it was old enough that it needed costly repairs all the time — and this was just one repair too many for us. We had been looking into a replacement for a while (several test drives and spreadsheets were involved in this process) but were suddenly prompted to make a decision within a matter of days.

Over that weekend, we concluded that only one car was right for us: an all-electric Nissan Leaf. Even though we have no way to charge the car at home, London is well-catered for public charging stations, which were mostly free at the time (and are still pretty cheap today). And the 155-mile range is enough for us, as we drive mostly within London, with the odd trip to the airport.

With the help of Carwow, we got an amazing deal on a lease, and we embarked in our electric adventure. Over half a year later, people ask me whether we’re still happy with the car, and the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.

There’s been some moments of stress, like when the in-built GPS system took me to the middle of rural England instead of the motorway service station that I needed to charge (we only use Google Maps now), or when it was a choice between having the heating on or freezing but managing all the way to the next charging station. But then there’s those times when we’re sitting in traffic in central London, having paid zero congestion charge, and knowing we’re not wasting a ton of petrol.

I don’t think we’ll get a petrol-run car any time soon, or ever again. The lease will be up in a couple of years, so we just have to wait a see, but from what I hear in the industry news, the options should be even better by then, which is very exciting.