I dunno, life just keeps on coming up with new experiences, whether I want them or not. We live on what the Portuguese call a Quintal, it's kind of like a croft or a small family farm. It's one of these wee places in the countryside that's kind of 'evolved' as the families got bigger over the years and the houses have been extended to cater for the extra bodies. Down the back of the main house our landlady, Donna Delores, has this marvelous collection of orange, lemon and olive trees and an assortment of pens and sheds for her chickens, ducks, quails, dogs and the Pot Bellied pig. It's really charming and rustic, if not a little noisy first thing in the morning, and she's for ever up at the back door with eggs, oranges, spuds or anything thing else that she's growing. It's really nice and of late she's been dropping of fresh loaves of bread she's been baking in the traditoinal oven she had installed just below the balcony of our gaff and which smokes the house out whenever she fires the bloody thing up. Anyhoo, I popped down to see her last night to drop off the rent money and as ever gets involved in a blether with her. "Do you like duck senior Roberto?" she asks, in Portuguese of course, and when I reply in the affirmative, announces that she'll have one for me tomorrow morning which I thought was fabby. Roast duck, fresh from the country. Just the job. "I'll knock on the door in the morning." says she as we parted company and I headed off up the road as I'd not seen Manuel The Bar for twelve hours or so and was pining for his company and the vinho tinto. Half past seven this morning. Flaked out on the sofa with a Guards band practicing the Trooping of the Colour inside my head and a gob like Ghadis flip flop, I'm brought too with the back door knocking and Donna Delores trilling that, "Your ducks ready senior Roberto. Come down here!" So I hauled my addled carcass of the couch and staggered down to the little out door kitchen she has to get my duck. Fcuk me! This bloody duck didn't just have it's all feathers in place it was still very much alive and giving me the evil eye from the big thick table it was sitting on! "There you go!" points my generous neighbour,"Her names Ducky. On you go." Well, WTF to do. I've not actually killed anything that I've eaten for donkeys years. That's what butchers are for, for Christ's sake, "Er, well, umm, you see Donna Delores........" I gibbered and faffed my way through any excuse I could find not have to do this deed and decided that the best way I could pass off my reluctance to off Ducky was that I was actually a Buddhist and wasn't allowed to kill any living thing. "You have Buddhists in Scotland?" she quizzed quizzicaly and pulling me a doubtful look whipped out a hand axe, grabbed a honking Ducky and decapitated her with one whack! "Where are you going senior Roberto?" she demanded as I back pedalled out the kitchen as she held Ducky over a bucket to catch the blood, "Surely even a Scottish Buddhist can pluck and prepare a duck, no?" It was said in such a way that I took it if I refused she might just turn the axe on me so I breathed deeply and an hour and a half later staggered back up the stairs much, much more sober than I'd been when I'd gone down and presented my wife and daughter with the remains of Ducky which they accepted without comment after taking in my shocked look and blood spattered clothes. I retired to the balcony and popped a cork and as I recovered my senses by drowning them I listened to the sweet trill of Donna Delores' voice as she gaily regaled her family arriving for Christmas about the Scottish Buddhist up the stairs that had near fainted when Ducky was done in. The country life eh? Don't you just love it?! Anyhoo, a very merry and as peaceful as it can be Christmas to all you folks and a happy and prosperous new year. I'll drink a toast to you's all while I figure out whether I can actually eat this blasted duck or whether this is a good time in my life to go Veggie. I'll let you know. Boas Festas, Feliz Anno Novo, Saude e Sorte parra voces. Regards Rab Ubique ya bass !!