We were always so glad that we chose to live in Lagoa. We loved the hustle and bustle of that lively town. Our 3rd floor apartment was very comfortable with the luxury of two bathrooms, large balcony and a roof garden that had views in all directions even out to the rice fields that then lay on the outskirts of town.

We were the only ex-pats in the block. Two Portuguese families were in residence; the other apartments were used as holiday homes by Portuguese families from the North.

After a few months we soon felt at home and this was due mostly to our kind neighbours and local shop owners who we got to know really well and we soon began to feel very much a part of the community. This was to become so important to us with our new life and the problems we would meet along the way; particularly that of feeling "Homesick". This is something that would strike quite suddenly with no warning and there is no feeling quite like it. It happens and you are rendered helpless. It really is a sickness. There is no immediate cure and you have to cope as best you can. All three of us experienced it more than once and I vividly remember my very first "attack"!

One very hot summer afternoon I was alone in the apartment and trying to put the business account book in order. It had to be meticulous with every single item connected to the workshops recorded and I was "up to my eyes" in paperwork! As I worked, I became aware of raised voices from the street below. It sounded like an argument and as I listened ,the language, which I thought I was getting used to, suddenly sounded completely alien, as if I was hearing it for the first time and I thought "I'm a foreigner!" and though it may seem stupid, at that precise moment I felt very alone and afraid. I'd been there five months, yet those feelings, that day, hit me like a bolt from the blue. I stopped working and just sat there staring into space, unable to move, frozen, yet my heart was beating rapidly and I was in a state of panic. I hugged myself for some reassurance. I wanted to cry but I couldn't. I wanted to run. But where to? I tried desperately to focus on my bookwork but the words and figures seemed to dance on the paper and perspiration trickled down my forehead.

I jumped up and ran to the bathroom to splash my face and arms in the cold clear water. I couldn't, I just couldn't let Hub and young Jamie see me like this. I pulled on my sandals, grabbed my shopping basket and ran down the cool marble staircase. Outside, the blistering heat hit my head and shoulders, weighing me down as I dragged my unwilling feet across the road and into the sun-drenched high street. My wretched feelings wouldn't go away and now, in the scorching sunlight, I was feeling decidedly worse. All I wanted to do was go home. Not to the apartment but England. I ached for England and that day, that afternoon, I'd have given a years wages just to walk in an English woodland; one filled with the scent of bluebells, great shady oaks, the sound of birds singing and the oh so cool tinkling sound of a stream, to sit on its grassy bank and trail my fingers in the cold soothing waters. My England. But as I walked the only water I could feel were the tears that blinded me and ran streaming down my face. That day I was sick for home, my family, my language, my England.

There was no cure. I had to wait for the wretchedness to pass which it did and I prayed for it not to return. But it did. It was all part of getting used to a new life in a new country.