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duoroterracesSome things are not invented, they just happen. Think of Isaac Newton who, if he hadn`t found himself standing next to an apple tree one day, might never have discovered gravity. And so it was with Port wine.

Under the reign of Louis XIV, during one of their many disputes with the English, the French restricted the import of English goods into France, provoking the English king, Charles II, to retaliate by forbidding the import of French wines into England.

popefrancisTowards the close of the Pope`s recent visit to Ireland, the equivalent of a bomb exploded in the Catholic church. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former papal nuncio to Washington (the Vatican`s equivalent of an ambassador), published a letter claiming that the Pope had let the Boston prelate, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, accused of sexually abusing seminarians, off the paedophile hook.

Vigano went as far as demanding the Pope`s resignation to permit the Catholic church to exit a “conspiracy of silence”. We will never know what the Pope`s exact thoughts were on learning of this letter, but these can probably be summarized as “holy shit”.

MadonnaAll over the world today people are celebrating their birthdays. With a great planetary puff, hundreds of thousands of people are blowing out millions of candles, maybe even in North Korea.

If these birthday people live in Portugal their cakes are likely to be intensely eggy, covered in a sugary white glaze and decorated with berries, orange and fig, so that they resemble a particularly festive skiing resort.

portugalAs Portugal heads into a sizzling weekend, with historically high temperatures forecast and a possibility the European temperature record of 48º C will be broken, Europe`s new favourite country should seize the opportunity to ban fossil fuel exploration, reinforce the already strong Portugal brand and contribute to climate change leadership.

Let`s take a look at the evidence. 2017 went on record as one of the three hottest years of modern times. Now, in early August 2018, Europe is in the middle of a scorching heat wave, and not just Southern Europe but Northern Europe too.

ObamaAs the Trump juggernaut of incivility and shallow crassness rumbles through the world`s capitals, humour remains an instrument of peaceful protest which all democratic-minded people should indulge without restraint.

In recent days, Europe has seen visits from two American presidents. As everyone knows, after months of build-up, hurricane Donald finally hit the UK last Friday, down-graded from a state visit to a slightly more palatable working visit. The previous Friday, Donald Trump`s predecessor, Barack Obama, made a more discrete visit to the city of Porto, in Portugal.

VineAutumnNever before has wine been so fashionable. But wait, is there not a paradox here! In our world of digital interconnectivity and instant satisfaction, wine may in fact be the ultimate counter-trending product.

It takes the best part of a decade for a vine to produce grapes that can be used for making wine. It often takes far more than this for a talented oenologist to reach his or her peak after many patient years of experience, tasting and experimentation.

lisbonmapSo soon after Christmas it seemed almost indulgent, but as I had my foodie daughter Vicky staying, I decided to book us a food tour with Taste of Lisboa. Well, I can tell you this was one of the best food tours I have ever been on, tasty and fun, writes James Mayor.*

Our tour began at the end of the 28 tram line, outside the gates to the Cemiterio dos Prazeres, the cemetery where anyone who is anyone in Lisbon is buried.

LucyPepper`How not to starve in Portugal` by Lucy Pepper, a book review by James Mayor

I recently read the best book in English that I have ever read about living in Portugal, or rather I ate it up, practically in a single gargantuan sitting. `How not to starve in Portugal` is by Lucy Pepper, an English writer and artist who has been living in Portugal for the past seventeen years and tasting every Portuguese dish on and off the menu.

This is by far the most hilarious account of `living abroad´ in any country I have yet come across. Please don`t read it on public transport, you will certainly miss your stop and possibly also be arrested for uncontrollable laughter.

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