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Quinta da Lontra

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My husband and I moved to Portugal in September 2007, I was 6 months pregnant with our first child and we moved to a remote but stunningly beautiful piece of land in the Algarve not far from Tavira. The land had a small south-facing ruin nestled into the hillside with panoramic views of the mountains and a far-reaching view of the sea. We settled into our two yurts which would be our accommodation until we renovated the ruin. After nearly 20 years living and working as a hypnotherapist in London, it felt immensely peaceful and remote, I was looking forward to my last trimester spent in peace, nature, and sunshine.

We discovered, just after our daughter Beatriz was born in Faro hospital, that our peaceful idyll was soon to be the location of two massive high-tension pylons, they were due to be built with the lines running literally overhead of the ruin we were planning to convert. We were bereft and devastated as we googled accounts of raised incidents of childhood leukemia and other potential health problems associated with living close to pylons.

So for the next two years we campaigned to have the pylons relocated, we got in touch with lawyers and held meetings, we even hired a bus to transport ourselves and other worried locals to Parliament in Lisbon. Our 900 signature petition was sent off and we waited for aa response from the energy company EDP … and we waited … and we waited.

Two years went past in limbo, until one evening when things seemed so hopeless my husband Toby passed me the laptop with a photo from a website called Pure Portugal. The photo was of a stunning river called the Mondego and a little house perched a few metres above the river. Let’s go and see it!

We drove the 6 hour journey to central Portugal and saw several houses and ruins through Pure Portugal but we ended up buying the first one we saw online. That was 6 years ago, we now have two children and run a busy retreat consisting of two yurts, two domes, and two apartments. 2016 is our first summer up and running and we’re amazed and delighted by how busy we are considering how far off the beaten track we are. We’re also enjoying meeting different people and my initial fear of having to share my riverside with strangers has vanished.

We had a call from the engineers responsible for the planning of the pylons not long after we moved to central Portugal, and guess what – after two years of silence they were listening to us after all. They moved the pylons several hundred metres away from us, we had won!