There is nothing more delicious than home-grown produce, but gardening can look daunting to those with no experience.
The good news is that there are a lot of beginner-friendly plants that will most likely be a success even if you don’t exactly have a green thumb.
If you have some outdoor space you could utilize, here are a few vegetables that are easy to grow to get you started!
Some of the best options to start with are summer squashes, particularly zucchini. The reason why it’s great for beginners is that it’s very prolific.
Planting just a couple of zucchini plants will yield more than you and your family can eat, so you’ll find yourself using this delicious vegetable in your meals every day. It also grows fast once it gets started, so you’ll soon see the fruit of your labour – quite literally.
You can plant zucchini from seeds when the warmer weather of the year arrives, but you can also wait all the way until mid-July.
Carrots are healthy with plenty of vitamins and antioxidants, and they are a go-to for many dishes, so always having them fresh at hand is very convenient.
They are ideal if you have deep enough soil for the vegetable to grow freely beneath the ground, but using pots is also possible if they are large enough. If your soil is a bit rocky, your carrots might grow crooked, but they will be just as delicious still.
You can sow the seeds directly at any time from the spring to the fall.
Radishes are another delicious addition to your salads, so if you like their taste, you can try growing them yourself. Much like carrots, you can plant radish seeds directly into the ground with likely success. Just don’t forget to make sure that each plant will have enough room to grow by pulling out a few seedlings from crowded areas.
Radish is ideally planted in the spring and the fall; it’s good for cool weather and it grows quite fast, but there is some variation among the different species
Cucumbers are great: you can eat them fresh and crunchy or make pickles and put them away for the winter. So, if you want a versatile vegetable in your garden, try planting cucumbers. This vegetable prefers warm temperatures and plenty of sun, so keep that in mind when choosing where to plant them.
You can also grow cucumbers in planters, but in either case, remember that they are going to need support to grow vertically, so setting up a trellis or something of the sort is going to be necessary.
Leafy greens bring life to your dishes, and having them freshly picked makes all the difference. Lettuce, in particular, is a good beginner-friendly vegetable as it tolerates cooler temperatures too – it’s best planted in the early spring or fall.
While you might think that you need a lot of space for growing lettuce, you can actually leverage vertical gardens in a small space, too. For instance, if you look at Mr Stacky reviews, you will see that people are having great success growing these greens in stacked hydroponic planters.
If you’re a fan of microgreens, spinach is an easy plant to get started with. It tolerates cold weather well so you can have this healthy and delicious vegetable for the majority of the year, as long as the soil does not freeze.
Spinach likes full sun, but it thrives in partial shade as well. However, skip the summer months since the heat will wreak havoc on this vegetable. You don’t need too much space to grow it, however, you do need your soil to be well-drained.
If you love sweet and delicious tomatoes but growing them is a difficult and long process, you might want to consider cherry tomatoes instead. To speed up the growing process, even more, you can buy seedlings that are ready to be planted in your garden, preferably in the sunniest spot!
Cherry tomatoes will mature faster thanks to their smaller size, and you will find that your home-grown ones are much more delicious than any store-bought variety!
Finally, green beans are another great option if you want to have home-grown vegetables on your table year-round. The reason is that you can put them in your freezer and they will still be just as delicious when you use them in your dishes. Depending on the species you go for, you might need a trellis so that the plant can grow to its full potential.
Green beans are best planted in the spring when the weather is already warm. Make sure they get enough sun and water and you should have no problem having a plentiful harvest.
Getting started with gardening might look daunting, but these foolproof vegetables should give you a head start! Growing your own produce is a rewarding hobby, so if you have the opportunity to do so, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try.
Article by Stella Ryne
Stella is a member of Alejandra’s Life Family Team
If you had your way, you’d stay home and self-quarantine. But circumstances demand you travel, and you need to board a plane, COVID-19 or no COVID-19.
So how can you protect yourself and your family if they plan to accompany you?
While traveling is a high-risk activity, there are steps you can take to minimize the danger. Take the following eight measures.
1. Improve Your Diet
At least a week or so before departure — preferably earlier — start priming your immune system with nutrient-dense, plant-based foods. Try to eat things as close to their natural form as possible, as processing strips many foods of vital minerals and vitamins.
What should you avoid? In general, you want to avoid excess sugar, white flour and alcohol, which increase inflammation and tax your immune system. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you should also give processed meats a pass, as they are a class 1 carcinogen. These substances also use considerable energy to digest, which is less for your body to spend fighting germs.
2. Or Try Supplemental Nutrition
Maybe you can’t get into the meal-prep game no matter how hard you try. Have no fear. You can find a ton of supplements on the market to increase your consumption of vitamin C and zinc, two nutrients reputed to boost immunity.
However, if you have inflammatory bowel problems, your body might not absorb nutrients from pills or liquids. Why not investigate intravenous supplementation?
One treatment floods your body with B-vitamins and other nutrients to keep your energy levels and immune function high. It’s not a vaccine for COVID-19, but it will help you stay healthy and alert as you take the relevant precautions.
One of the issues with the pandemic response in the U.S. involves the face-mask controversy since there was little uniform guidance. As a result, individual jurisdictions needed to impose ordinances independently. Some did, while others did not. However, many airlines now require passengers to cover their noses and mouths. Even if yours doesn’t, you should protect yourself and your family.
It’s a numbers game. Think of it this way: It’s like opening an umbrella in a storm. Parts of you might still get wet, but you’ll stay far drier than if you ventured out with zero protection.
4. And Your Glasses
Recently a virologist claimed he contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus through his eyes while traveling. While he wore a mask and disinfected his armrests and tray table, a wayward finger made its way to that mucus membrane.
If you wear contacts, you know how dry they can get on an aircraft. The urge to touch them might grow overwhelming, and if you get a lash caught, you have to remove it. Instead, wear your glasses — it will help you keep your hands away from your peepers.
5. Carry Disinfectant Wipes
While airlines have improved hygiene measures during COVID-19, you still touch surfaces countless others have handled. Please don’t rely on the crew to keep everything spic-and-span.
Instead, carry disinfectant wipes with you. Give your armrests and tray table a thorough cleaning before opening any snacks.
6. Keep a Safe Distance
It’s impossible to social distance when airline seats cram you in like sardines. However, as much as possible, put space between you and your fellow travelers.
It’s time to get a bit assertive. It’s okay to say, “Excuse me, would you mind giving me some more space, please?” If you are shy, consider the lesson you teach your children. They’ll only stand up for themselves if they see you engage in similar behavior.
7. Check Your Hotel’s Safety Measures
Many hotels implemented hygiene measures such as “air out” days during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can call ahead to request that your venue leave your room vacant for 24 hours before your arrival. Some may charge for the privilege, but many now do this as a matter of course.
Another question to ask involves when housekeeping knocks. If you prefer to keep strangers out of your room until you leave, hang your do not disturb sign when you arrive and leave it there. Some hotels have done away with these, and now require you to request service if you want it.
8. Stay Home If You Have Symptoms
Finally, if you experience symptoms like a fever or cough before departure, please postpone or cancel your trip. Many facilities and airlines now have more flexible rescheduling processes that refund your money or let you travel on an alternate date. You don’t want to become “COVID Mary.”
While you may feel tempted if you have a lot on the line, please remember that you can’t tell who might suffer severe complications. You can’t see someone’s heart condition when they stroll through the airport, but catching the novel coronavirus could kill them.
Travel Safely During the COVID-19 Crisis With These Tips
Traveling always entails some risk, and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased them. Please follow the eight tips above to keep you and your family safe on your journey.
Take a look at this Inn, the only Mermaid Inn rich in history in the UK!
The Cellars dating is from 1156 and the building was rebuilt in 1420.
Mermaid Inn is a Rosette recognized dining, with affordable rooms and medieval architecture, but those are not the only things going on in Rye’s historic Mermaid Inn.
Guests who check-in at the centuries-old pub, can expect to rub shoulders with some of its regulars, not all of whom are alive. The Mermaid Inn has a reputation for being haunted, 600 years of history and there are so many stories, and I tried to check all the reviews out there to write them down here.
What to Expect at the Mermaid Inn
There are 31 unique rooms to choose from, with sloping ceilings and creaking floorboards, and numerous staircases.
Experience a drink in the Giant’s Fireplace Bar and imagine how the Hawkhurst Gang, local smugglers in the 1730s and 1740s, caroused in the bar. Can you see the secret passageway entrance?
Dine in the Linen Fold Panelled Restaurant. Enjoy the ambiance of the large restaurant, the cosiness of the Dr Syn dining room or the privacy of the Boardroom for your evening meal, lunch, and breakfast.
Relax in one of the two lounges. Enjoy the comfort and atmosphere of Dr Syn’s Lounge and look for the wall carvings of the Catholic priests fleeing to the continent at the time of the Reformation. The Small Lounge overlooks the cobbles of Mermaid Street, which was once the main route to the anchorage in Rye in years gone by.
They are the only hotel in the Medieval citadel of Rye with on-site parking – for 15 cars at present as per Covid Guidelines.
The Story and the Hauntings
Mermaid Inn has more than 600 years of haunting history.
It is not surprising, then, that the pub has its fair share of ghosts. Though there have been incidents throughout the building, many of the sightings are confined to 6 of its 32 rooms.
In Room 16, there are reports of guests waking up to a duel being fought by the bedside. The combatants, both of whom are dressed in doublets and hose, fight to the death with rapiers, with the loser thrown down a secret staircase to what is now the bar.
Other guests in room 1 have reported seeing a lady in white, sat by the fireplace. Despite the lack of pipes or windows nearby, guests who have laid their clothes on the chair overnight claimed to find them soaking wet by morning.
This may or may not be the same Lady in White made famous in Room 5 for stopping at the foot of the bed on her way across the room and through the door, nor is it necessarily related to the rocking chair in room 17, which is known to start creaking back and forth, entirely of its own accord.
As varied as they are spooky, The Mermaid Inn’s ghosts are the stuff of local legend, with no shortage of mediums, psychics and amateur ghost hunters lending credence to its incorporeal credentials.
Orbs (not dust)
Owner Judith Blincow, who has run The Mermaid Inn since 1993, the ghosts come part and parcel with the property. She ain’t afraid of no ghost. She said: “I’ve never had a bad feeling here, so if there’s anything really there, it’s accepted me.”
Even if this building wasn’t haunted, I can honestly say I need to go there for its wonderful architectural and historical place. Reminds me of the “Leaky Cauldron” when Harry Potter stayed there.
River cruises and river tours have become one of the hottest travel trends in recent years, providing some of the best views of a city, or multiple destinations. For example, those who purchased one of the Ottawa homes for sale, with the capital city set along the south bank of the Ottawa River, have easy access to a wide variety of trips out on the water.
Of course, there are river excursions across the globe, in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and beyond.
A Travel Agent Central survey found that nearly three-quarters of respondents would rather sail on a river cruise than take an ocean cruise because of the scenic views, lack of waves, smaller ships and shore excursions.
But why are river tours so fun, and perhaps even more fun than an ocean cruise? These are just a few of the reasons.
Even if it’s just for a couple of hours, seeing a city via a river tour is generally a more pleasant way to soak up the scenery, and experience more of it, than what you’d get from a land tour. It can be even more enjoyable while relaxing on the sun deck with a cocktail or a glass of wine.
You’ll be able to marvel at the mix of modern development and natural beauty without having to worry about sore feet at the end of the day or battling city crowds.
On an ocean cruise, all you’ll see, sometimes for days at a time, is the water. Not so when cruising a river. As there are no inside cabins, you’re always going to have a front-row seat of the changing topography.
With a multi-day river cruise, you can experience multiple destinations without unpacking and repacking at each one. It eliminates most of the burden that comes with dragging luggage in and out of a rental car and other transport vehicles, as well as the worry about losing something, allowing you to just have fun.
While you can do that with an ocean cruise, you’ll usually spend many days out at sea. River cruises are more port-intensive, meaning you’ll typically visit a new place every day. You’ll have the option to relax onboard or disembark, take tours of historic towns, and sample the local cuisine. Riverboats have the ability to dock right into the hearts of towns due to their more sleek size, so all you have to do is step off and enjoy.
You might cruise the St. Lawrence River in Canada, watching for the beluga whales and other marine life near Tadoussac in Quebec, or tour Paris on a riverboat through the Seine, or hop on a paddleboat to cruise the Mississippi River in New Orleans. The options are practically endless.
An official statement released by Luis Araujo – President of the national tourism board Turismo de Portugal.
20th August 2020: In light of the news breaking on 20th August 2020, in which Portugal was added to a travel corridor between the United Kingdom thus removing the madantory requirement for visitors to quarantine upon return, an official statement has been issued by Mr. Luis Araújo, President of Turismo de Portugal.
“We are delighted to have the UK government confirmation for Portugal’s inclusion in an air bridge arrangement to prevent mandatory quarantine upon return to the United Kingdom. For quite some time now tourism and government officials have consistently maintained our unwavering confidence in the safety of Portugal as a result of a thoroughly efficient and effective multi-sector strategy to contain the virus as early as possible and the implementation of concise measures and infrastructure with the capacity to prepare the tourism sector for a safe reopening. We are now delighted to have arrived at a decision which we feel far better reflects the reality of the situation in Portugal.”
Since May, Portugal has been considered an example in leading the fight against Covid-19, namely as a result of the extensive testing, which ranks in the top 10 highest European nations to test over 1 million people, with more than 1.8 million tests completed and rising. From then until now, all indicators have evolved favorably, with the number of active cases decreasing on linearly.
The feeling of safety in Portugal is enhanced by the fact UEFA opted to choose the nation to host the latter stages of the Champions League, with professional teams from across Europe competing for the pinnacle prize in club football, here in Portugal.
We have been immensely proud to have hosted this tournament as well as the Algarve being chosen to host the Formula 1 and MOTO GP later this year, and this further points towards the superb example set by Portugal throughout this pandemic and the confidence in the safety of the country. Portugal has 4 of the 21 most safest destinations for this summer with Madeira, Azores islands, Alentejo and Algarve having been selected by the European Best Destinations for 2020 summer within Europe.
Reported today (20th August), just two deaths and 154 new cases have been identified in Portugal from an entire population exceeding 10.2 million people. Whilst we cannot undermine our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones, this figure is evidence of the thoroughly improved situation and feeling of control.
Beyond this, the expansion of the Clean & Safe seal to include the whole tourism value chain with over 21,000 businesses registered and more than 22,000 professionals trained is another layer of the trust and transparency strategy which Portugal has been implementing to manage the pandemic.
Portugal has been welcoming guests from the United Kingdom since the beginning of July, therefore this is not the case of a country just opening its doors after battling the worst of the pandemic, but the case of a destination which has been operating with the capacity for international visitors for some time now following effective early action in the battle against the virus. We have tourists in Portugal already who are enjoying themselves safely and responsibly.
Portugal has open borders, open tourism activities, and is ready to welcome tourists in all regions, now without the need for a mandatory quarantine upon return to the United Kingdom
With the resumption of air connectivity being made, there is an expectation of short-term recovery of air routes of about 60% in September. At this moment, Portugal already has global air connectivity to over 81 cities with 29 airlines assuring international flights to Portugal’s five airports.
The people of the United Kingdom have celebrated our culture, traditions, landmarks, and history for decades, by our side, forming the primary source of inbound visitors for many regions in Portugal. While this has been a period which nobody will ever forget, a period of time which has left behind a trail of destruction, sorrow, and pain – we are so thankful to be able to open our arms, even wider than before, to the people of the United Kingdom. Portugal cannot wait to welcome you.
About Turismo de Portugal
Integrated in the Ministry of Economy and Digital Transition, Turismo de Portugal is the National Tourism Authority responsible for the promotion, enhancement and sustainability of the tourism sector. It brings together in a single entity all the institutional skills related to boosting tourism, from supply to demand. With a privileged relationship with other public entities and economic agents, in Portugal and abroad, Turismo de Portugal is committed to fulfilling the goal of strengthening tourism as one of the pillars of the growth of the Portuguese economy.
VisitPortugal is the official website for Portugal as a tourist destination, and is developed by Turismo de Portugal I.P., the national tourist board. Info: visitportugal.com
Brand new series with an edge: Haunted Hotels was the chosen new series (chosen by you) on social media with a whopping 90% poll vote!
And here we have the new episode, starting with Portugal.
When I was researching some hotels, where you can actually stay, some of the hotels are pretty obvious that I am going to write about them, I will try and make them all around the world, but for the first article I decided to add one with a story related to me.
Translation: Penhas da Saude Sanatorium South Wing of Dinning Room
Serra da Estrela Hotel (or hostel to be more accurately translated) is situated in a place I knew it was haunted way way before this crazy year.
Back in the early 90’s, I used to go to Serra da Estrela with my parents, uncles and cousins, to have at least 2 weeks summer vacation. We lived in Lisbon and my uncles lived near Serra da Estrela, and we would rent a house there and spend our days playing outside, building treehouses, (fighting….because cousins), and having fun.
BUT as we were living in different cities, we get different routes to reach the rented house. Me and my parents always went through the side of Covilha (near city of Serra da Estrela) and we often passed by this old abandoned hospital (I didn’t know what it was back then, to be honest, this new hotel came across my first searches on haunted hotels in Portugal, I didn’t knew it was a sanatorium and that it has opened recently as a 5 star hotel… coincidence??).
To me that building was always spooky and I never wanted to look much from the car window to it, and every time we went through that route I always avoided looking at it. To be honest, I dreamt a lot about that building, and to also be honest I have a secretively love for haunting buildings since that… I was too little to know stories about it… until today that I am writing this.
Sanatório dos Ferroviarios Penhas da Saúde (Penhas da Saude Sanatorium)
Projected by architect Cottinelli Telmo in the 1920’s, and built with the sponsoring of the Caminhos de Ferro (Portuguese Railroad company), this sanatorium stays in Porta dos Hermínios in Penhas da Saúde, near the city of Covilhã, at 950 meters of altitude. The aim was to be a plac for Tuberculosis treatments of their employees. These could benefit of the location in a clm place and the good air that the Serra could do, being part of a net of 11 existent sanatoriums in the beggining of the 20th century.
It took 8 years to be built (1928-1936) and remained closed many years after, related to strange and adverse circunstamces related to CP (Caminhos de Ferro). This building would then be rented to the Portuguese Association of Sanatoriums, with the condition to receive all the patients in need of an altitude treatment, having at least 50 beds for the Nacional Tuberculosis Assistance association.
The staff was run by Spanish Nuns with absolutely no medical degree or knowledge, beside of course doctors.
Surgery Room (Original picture)
As most things happen (unfortunately) the majority of wealthy patients had access to a good treatment. This doesn’t mean that the sanatorium didn’t accept the lower classes, they did, the thing is that better rooms, food, and certain treatments were only for the rich.
With the start of anti-tuberculosis chemo treatments, in 1969, by order of the Health Ministry, this sanatorium had a closing order.
After it’s closure, the sanatorium continued to operate under the surveillance of a couple, 2 of its old employees that remained to make the place habitable, and run the space with all its splendor to accommodate more than 700 people “the Returned” (Portuguese emigrants that flew from Africa without practically nothing, afraid of conflicts that were happening at the time, Portuguese colonies wanted the independence which leads to internal wars and rebellions in Angola and Mozambique).
Many of the “Returned” re-started their lives, others put an end to their lives in the sanatorium (by grief of losing everything), and by the end of the 80’s the building was alone, degraded and abandoned.
Sad story (among many of them) this huge imposing building, once so posh (for some) was sold in 1998 to ENATUR by the symbolic price of $1! Such was its state of degradation.
Note: as any good horror movie (and common sense as well) is that sanatoriums had 2 faces. And health can take a toll on the mental part. Many treatments were very chocking, others were trials to start new treatments, and many died of tuberculosis and other types of problems… You know what I mean.
Pousada da Serra da Estrela (4 star hotel)
This newly remodeled Hotel opened its doors in 2014. Redesigned by the known Portuguese architect Souto Moura, you can now book directly or through Booking, and they say about it:
“Set on a hilltop on the edge of the Serra da Estrela mountains, this tranquil hotel is 7 km from the Museu de Arte e Cultura and 14 km from Vodafone Ski Resort.
Warmly decorated rooms feature panoramic or garden views, free Wi-Fi, flat-screens, and minifridges. Some upgraded rooms have sofabeds, while others have whirlpool tubs and/or Turkish baths. Bright suites add separate living rooms. Room service is offered.
Meals are served in an elegant restaurant with granite columns and arched windows. Other amenities consist of an outdoor pool, a game room, and a garden, as well as a spa offering massage treatments, a sauna, an indoor pool, and a gym.”
Will you stay in there after all you read? I am dying to go there now! It looks wonderful and who knows what experiences can happen.
Side by side Pictures (with Extra pictures):
Video from 2010 about the state of the building (in portuguese)