My husband and I have just got back from Portugal. My mother-in-law lives in Porto but before we went to visit her, we spent a week in Lisbon.
There is plenty of material for history blogs in that remarkable city and you’ll be hearing more over the next few posts, but I have to admit that the whole holiday was rather overshadowed by the coming Brexit vote. Lisbon is a town of travel, trade and immigration just as London is. We revelled in it, and were miserable at the idea the concept of a smaller, walled country might triumph over the glories and complexities of connection in the UK.
If you go to Lisbon take the time to veer off the main tourist trail and visit Casa Museu Medeiros e Almeida. It’s an astonishing collection, all the more remarkable because several of the rooms remain those of a private house, just as the original collectors arranged them.
Walls are lined with French painted panelling, crazed mid-19th century furniture vies for the attention with two headed enamelled peacocks and the golden shell baby carriage of the son of the Duke of Wellington. There’s an entire room devoted to watches and clocks from rock crystal extravaganzas to pocket watches shaped like cherries and apparently conservative looking pocket watches which contain little pockets of clockwork porn within them.
They speak of culture and ideas, of wit and pleasure crossing great expanses of space and time before settling in this beautiful cool house in a Lisbon side-street.
I hope I’ll be celebrating our decision to remain in Europe next month, a decision to remain an outward looking people who wish to share and celebrate. For now, apologies for the short post and fingers crossed.