Well, here I am, stuck indoors on a fine winter's day where the outside temperature is a chilly 22 degrees or so. The boys and I are housebound today while three guys are outside replacing our front door - well, it's more of a garage door really, with a little side door built-in for pedestrians, and this one should be a nice automatic one I can control from the comfort of my car... so now all I need is the car!
Anyway, I'm actually sitting up in the office watching them on the security monitor and they look like they're about to finish so I'll just pop down and try and talk to them about it in really hopeless portuguese and see if I can learn how it works...
Well, that was easy. We now have a huge white electrically-powered iron wall along the front of our property. I get two different views of it from the external cameras, as well as two views of the driveway and one of the back roof, all from the comfort of my armchair thanks to our high-tech security system. The cameras, by the way, are linked to motion sensors so they record every movement (be it car, bat, wind-blow leaves or, I presume, thief) and record them all on a dedicated hard drive for later perusal.
Added to all that are the following intruder counter-measures... the upstairs windows all have roll-down metal shutters; the back bedroom, because it has access onto the roof, also has a very tasteful metal cage built around it; all the downstairs doors are (of course) alarmed and there are motion sensors in all the rooms. There is a three-foot high electrified fence running right around the top of the entire property and, to cap it all, there is a bullet-proof metal door at the top of the stairs so we can be extra safe while we're asleep.
Oh, and if the alarm ever does go off, the security company will send some people round straight away and they're situated about 500 meters away (because the boss of the company lives just around the corner apparently).
I feel very safe. And important. Let's just hope we never have to need any of it.
And now, because security systems don't make for interesting pictures, here's some photos of the nice colourful plants we have in the garden. Helen can probably tell you what they are, and I'm not going to embarrass myself by having a go, but I do like a nice bit of colour in among all the wires and walls and metal doors!
This is my current favourite. Actually, it's not even planted yet. It was a present from our first (and so-far only) dinner guest - another Economist correspondent called John Parker - who was treated to a fairly uninspiring pasta dish, served on a child's plastic plate, wine in a tiny glass tumbler and chocolate roll on a knapkin. (The rest of our kitchenware should reach us in about six to eight weeks). And all the while during the sumptuous banquet, poor old John was bombarded with an endless stream of monologues about Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Bakugan and 'Plants vs Zombies', the last of which, in case you were unsure, is a computer game. And talking of plants...
This one is James' favourite.
And this one is David's favourite... because it's purple!
And finally, this one was here when we arrived.
Click on them and you can see them up close... go on, you can almost smell them...