How I grow my own food, off-grid and on the move

I’ve often been called an oxymoron (or abbreviations of the word), but that’s never bothered me. The contradictions in people are what makes them human and some conflicting interests, like gardening and travelling, are not as mutually exclusive as they may seem. Since I embarked on my off-grid adventures in Portugal 10 years ago, I’ve realised that growing your own food while staying on the move can in fact work out. What’s more, low-impact seasonal gardening combined with slow travel can actually make for an eco-friendly lifestyle design.

In Search of the Good Life in Pure Portugal

When I arrived in central Portugal with my laptop, solar-powered charger and…

Travel. Hiking. Portugal.

The wild winding lanes of rural Beira Baixa.

A trip to Beira Baixa is not always top of the itinerary for most tourists in Portugal. The remote farmland region lies in the central part of the country, on the border with Spain. It’s far away from the cosmopolitan bustle of Lisbon and the busy beaches of the Algarve.

Travelling to this part of Portugal means slowing down. You won’t get anywhere fast, but you will get a chance to breathe. The main roads take you through the centre of village after village, giving you fleeting glimpses of local life before you emerge into open farmland once again.


Heresay and heresy on the fringes of Europe

Immigrants in Portugal can face xenophobic remarks when they raise their voices and make legitimate demands for change. “Go back to where you come from if you don’t like it here,” is a phrase I’ve often heard, especially when criticizing the way elections are run in small towns and villages. But we’re living through times when corruption scandals make regular headlines, Portugal’s new far right is on the rise, and racist rhetoric is becoming increasingly acceptable in the mainstream. …

Reflections of a solo traveller wandering in the dark

A cathedral dome illuminated on the dark skyline at sunset.

Travelling alone can be a joy, especially when you visit a city you already know. On this occasion, there was a purpose for my trip to Lisbon, which would keep me busy for a good few days. I was writing an article about the Parks of Sintra and was given a free pass to explore all the grounds. Lisbon wasn’t far away, so I chose to stay there for a change of scene in the evenings.

I’d been to Lisbon many times before, so didn’t really want to see anything new. …

How lifting water lowered my cholesterol

A man lowering a bucket into a water well.

“As a civilization, we have made so much progress,” she said.

Her argument was that technology and automation relieve us of mundane, time-consuming tasks. It frees us from primitive toil so we can apply our minds to more intellectually rewarding pursuits. Scientific advancements have improved our quality of life, increased longevity and reduced suffering.

“Why on earth would you give that up for some clichéd hippie fantasy? To live in poverty by choice, washing your clothes in a bucket and rubbing sticks to light a fire?”

The comments were made privately by a friend from London after I’d posted a…


What a day trip from Porto taught me about Portugal’s biodiversity

Two white storks standing under a tree.

Extending along the River Douro, just a stone’s throw from Porto’s city center is the Gaia Biological Park. Giving you a tour of Portugal’s native flora and fauna, the park is an environmental education center, wildlife sanctuary, and nature reserve rolled into one. As well as providing a glimpse of Portugal’s wild side, it explores the impact of human activity on ecosystems and offers ample food for thought.

As a gardener growing in rural Portugal, I’m always looking for opportunities to explore the relationship between agriculture and the environment — to broaden my knowledge of native species and understand the…

A photographic journey of discovery

A black-and-white striped butterfly on a pink flower.

The sun was setting over my vegetable patch in rural Portugal and I needed to head home. There was still some light, so I couldn’t help hanging around to inspect my broad beans one last time. They were tall and sturdy and in full bloom — not a spot of blackfly to be seen. Satisfied, I turned to go, but a loud humming sound caught my attention. I looked around, startled, and saw a thick-bodied thing — about an inch or so long — hovering among the flowers. I held my breath. There’s no way a butterfly could make this…


Let’s drop ‘organic’ and stop bickering about ‘burgers’

I once saw a bottle of water with a very unique selling point. It didn’t profess to contain magic healing properties, nor was it bottled at source in the Swiss Alps. It was, however, 100% CHOLESTEROL FREE! I actually grabbed it and headed for the check out. WTF? Does any water contain cholesterol? Or were they trying to compete with coconut milk?

That was the day I realised food and drink companies were on a mission to gaslight me with distraction techniques. Ha! Two can play at this game, I thought, and started deconstructing the subtext on labels. …

I moved into a tent out of necessity, not choice

There’s something very irritating about the term, nauseating even: Digital Nomad. The sheer smugness of it.

Look at you, stuck in your nine-to-five with a frozen screen; I’m jetting off to a tropical island with a 200 Gbps download speed!

We all know the reality is not always the same, but it’s almost tempting to wear the digital nomad label as a badge of honour. It’s certainly a term I’ve used to describe myself in the past. Why not? …

How to integrate as a gardener abroad

Friend or foe? Pest or pollinator? Weed or wildflower? These were the ridiculous questions I asked myself as I pottered about on my small plot of land in the early stages of my horticultural adventures in Portugal. I referred back to the notes I’d taken in England while studying for my Royal Horticultural Society exams. A weed is something growing in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s the official definition, I believe.

I looked around in awe at the unfamiliar environment as I went about covering my strawberry patch with netting. The soft rolling hills of the cork…

Andrew Theophilou

I’m a writer with previous experience in education, NGOs and advertising. I have an active interest in conservation and a passive interest in making money.

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