Clare- Portugal

                                             What is it you Khan’t face?
A new found challenge in Portugal- Karate
Clare Braddick is a FB friend of mine and I am really looking forward to meeting her soon. We chatted after I posed some questions on a Do- It -Yourself forum. We live a few hours away from each other so it will be a little while before I get to say “Ola” in real life, but, she is a formidable woman worth reading about in the  meantime. In a previous life Clare worked as a recruitment consultant placing butlers, chauffeurs and nanny’s (totally intrigued with that one).  Now she is a martial arts performing, running, gardening mother of 2 living  a fab life in Portugal. Enjoy reading her story. I did.
Where were you born and where are you currently living?
I was born in Plymouth in the UK and  am now living in a small village near Sertā  in Central Portugal.                    
Where was your last country of residence?
UK
Is there anything you wished you had done before you left the UK? Spent more time with my Grandmother..she is 92..but I guess there would never be enough time ever to spend with her, she is an amazing lady.
What other places have you lived?
I lived in France for 10 years and travelled for 2 months in India when my daughters were just 2 and 4 years old. My other half works in Saudi, so we often meet in Cairo, where he previously lived for 6 years. 
India time
Why did you move and how long have you been in  Portugal?

Do you want the long or the short answer. The main reason was wanting to bring my girls up in a safe environment. We had an opportunity to build a house and have a very different lifestyle to what we had in the UK. Oh and the weather was a huge factor. I love outdoor living in the sun! We are celebrating 5 years in Portugal.

Dan working on the house
Leaving the UK for Portugal 5 years ago
What are the main differences living in the UK compared to life in Portugal?
The main difference is our quality of life. In the UK I would have to work a long working week..it was the rat race with very little time and energy other than working. Here, I don’t work and get to be full time mum. Where we live is rural rather than in a town, we have space and land around us, we can afford to travel  and be creative with our time. 
The House

How have these differences influenced you?
I guess as a result of having time, I am being extremely creative and as a result learning new skills. Brick laying, upholstery, gardening. We also live in an area where  you cannot find everything you want..I have had to be very creative for example with fancy dress costumes for my girls.
keeping up traditions but using a melon as no pumpkins available!
What is the biggest challenge you have undertaken in Portugal?
Learning karate  at  45, being one of the largest and oldest on the mat has been a huge challenge but one of the best things I have ever done!
Do you have pets in Portugal?
Darcey and Jimmy our three legged cat who we adopted from a couple going back to the uk- turns out he lived 10mins from where we used to in the uk…
We also have two hamsters Summer and Bowie… you know you need to start worrying when the kids and pets out weigh the grown ups! I am currently resisting the pleas for goats, micro pigs and chickens!
The Pooches
What languages do you speak?
I speak English, French and Portuguese (very badly) and a tiny amount of Arabic.

How many children do you have and who are they?
I have two, Hannah 11 and Madelaine 8
Hannah and Maddie
What do you love the most about your girls?
Their joie de vivre, they are fun and compassionate and always ready for an adventure
Love in Portugal
What shits you the most about your children? (naughty question)
I need three hours to get the little monkeys to get to bed….. interrupted by ………..”my leg hurts, sign this form for school Mum, I have a spelling test, I need a wee”. Actually I am shouting at them right now as I type this interview! GET TO BED ALREADY! Problem being they are proper ratbags if they don’t get enough sleep.

What school do your children go to and what other schools have they attended?
They go to a school in Serta year 3 and year 5. They started  in a smaller school when we first arrived and Hannah went to school for two years in the UK, Maddie went to nursery.

What is your job?If you are trailing spouse then how do you spend your time?
I am the trailing spouse but he isn’t here lol! There are genuinely not enough hours in the day .. we built a house here and so I project managed that for 5 years, now there is the land, gardening and in the not too distant future I want to try turning wood.
Family Time in Nazare
What was the easiest thing settling  in ?
The sunshine and outdoor living
What was the hardest thing settling in?
The language. I was arrogant thinking because I was fluent in french that Portuguese would be easy..it hasn’t been the case at all.  I would also add integrating. Again my arrogance and my experience led me to believe I would be very much part of the community. Although I have made a few Portuguese friends integrating has been much harder than I imagined. Maybe it is my age too, it was so much easier when I was younger and living in France. 
How do you live your life differently now you have the hindsight of your expat experience?
We pretty much live day to day and in the moment. We also have a much healthier stress free life; well we do now the house has been built! 
Claire and her girls in Kerala


What advice would you give to a person who is soon to be an expatriate?
Find an online community for hints and tips in the area, especially if you are renovating or building a property and also to find other parents with children. Although I have still very few friends here, the ones I have made have been invaluable to the children and I.

 

Describe a usual day?
I won’t bore you with the morning routine but after the school run I normally drive to a lake near by for a run or walk, I am usually joined by a very good gf I have made here. Home for coffee and a catch up with my other half who works in Riyadh. then I get to garden, strim the land. I might pop to a market for some veg or meet a friend for coffee. After the school pick up it is a mad evening of homework and karate class *for Hannah and I or athletics club for Maddie.
I gave you a regular day in School term- when Dan is back it’s a different story – especially the summer- We kayak-each year we have a freedom camp, kayak and a camp over night to celebrate our freedom and being in Portugal , swim in the river, go hiking in the mountains, camp, go to the beach (osso de baleia is our nearest )- miles of deserted sandy beaches, we do projects like tree platforms or work on the house- no two days are the same , we have so much fun!
Freedom Camp

The best thing about living in …………….?( you choose which country) Portugal is stunning…in just an hour we can be at the beach or the mountains, 1 and half from two big cities. oh and also the slow place of life, except when you are in a hurry to get things done lol!

WHAT is the most challenging thing about being an expatmumma? Sometimes the isolation, on arriving we were very unfortunate to have a house fire, with my partner away it was a very challenging time. I literally had very few friends and the ones I thought I had ,exploited my situation. It was a steep learning curve.

 

What is the BEST thing about being an Expatmumma!
 Just that! I get to be Mumma! I also enjoy meeting people with such diverse backgrounds. I also get to be free from all the constraints that I had in the UK. 

 

Tell us an anecdote !
Not a direct anecdote but we called the fire brigade a fair few times since living in Portugal… the first time was in another rental we got trapped in the kitchen which was separate from the main house and only had bars on the window. I was shouting HELLLPPP not knowing any portuguese and a passer  by called the fire brigade. they were about to ram the door and I slipped a note showing a staircase and a key. it did the trick. mind you we were in there for two hours. just four weeks later i had to call them back for a house fire! and then just a few weeks later we discovered and 82 year old man in a ditch he had literally driven his car over a cliff and scrambled back to the top. It took a lot of convincing the firemen the incident really had nothing to do with me and we were there just by chance to help him!
Trapped in the kitchen in Portugal
What are some things you do when you know you are leaving  to go to a  new country?
See as many of my family and friends.
Where would your ultimate expat posting be and why?
I have thought long and hard about this one but i think this is it for us…. Egypt would be on our list but with the house build we think we have found our Shangri- La.
Any last thoughts?
I think being an expat has opened my mind to a lot of new people and circumstances..I think it is helping shape my daughters into being pretty open minded and hearted kids…
What is it you simply KHAN’t Face living in ……….?( you choose which country )
haha the UK, I could never go back!