Saturday has come round once more and it's rapidly becoming my favourite day of the week. For a start, it doesn't begin at six o'clock! On Monday to Friday, I have to get up at this unearthly hour, wrestle two unwilling children out of their beds, force some food into them and nag them into their school uniforms before propelling them through the neighbourhood as fast as their little legs can carry them and deposit them at the school just in time for James to start his morning tutorial at 7:45am.
On Saturdays however, I can try and ignore the cries of my children until eight o'clock or so. Why, by the way, do children spend five days a week begging for a lie-in and then refuse to have one just when you would like them to? Anyway, once we're all up and running, we abandon the house and head off eat a breakfast someone else has prepared for once.
Emporio Santa Maria is a lovely building about fifteen minutes' walk from the house (or ten if you're really desperate for that first cup of coffee). It's actually a fancy supermarket, swish wine shop, sushi restaurant and cafe all rolled into one and on weekend mornings they do a huge and very reasonably-priced buffet breakfast where you can, if the urge so takes you, eat enough to last you the rest of the weekend.
Today I was somewhat restrained, calling it a day after only two freshly-squeezed orange juices, a plate of melon, watermelon, kiwi and grapes, three pão de queijo (cheese buns), two chocolate croissants and three coffees. The rest of the family also worked their way through melon juice, omelette, sausage, bacon, chicken pie, chocolate tart, strawberries, three different types of cereal involving way too much sugar and chocolate, yoghurt and chocolate milk. And you get to do all this sitting on a huge comfy sofa and you can stay there for as long as you want. Now that I think about it, I'm really not sure why we only do this once a week.
Usually, once we're unable to eat any more, we head off to a park down the road to let the kids burn off some of their newly-acquired calories. It's full of climbing frames and swings for children and exercise machines for the grown-ups (and James). Today we skipped the park however as it wasn't particularly sunny and we sent the boys off to get their hair cut. They've needed one for a few weeks now, but we've been holding off in the hope of getting our hair trimmer back. Sadly, although our possessions have been in the same country as us for about three weeks now, the long and complicated process of getting them through customs has only just begun and it will be at least another three weeks before we can even hope to get our hands on them. By then the children would be looking like hippies so there was nothing for it but to cough up the £50 it costs out here to get them both a quick trim.
I was all in favour of getting them a haircut that would last them till Christmas, but I was over-ruled by the more conservative elements of the family (everyone else!)
After haircuts and shopping (I go shopping nearly every day here as the fresh bakery produce is worth the effort) it's back to the house for a few hours of entertaining ourselves with our favourite things...
Helen had a little nap (though to be fair she did share the bed with a pile of newspapers and a Portuguese dictionary), David spent a pleasant half-an-hour singing along to videos on the Thomas the Tank Engine website, James disappeared off somewhere to work his way through a pile of one-sided paper, either inventing complicated new games or churning out yet another batch of paper planes and I decided to sit here and tell you all about it.
After that we thought we'd risk the weather and pop out to our local park for a bit. These days it rains pretty much every day, usually during the late afternoon and for anything between twenty minutes and several hours and it was already looking grey and ominous before we set out. However, a successful and dry trip was achieved, some more calories were burnt off by the active half of the family and some good conversation was enjoyed by the more sedentary half.
And now the day is winding down. The children are (rather bizarrely) enjoying an old episode of Supernanny, Helen is back to work because journalism is no respecter of the weekend and I'm looking forward to spending a couple of hours cycling through 99 channels of Brazilian TV and playing some pointless games on the iPad.
Culture can wait till tomorrow.