A Urgeiriça revivida


A pequena localidade mineira da Urgeiriça e os meus primeiros anos de vida aí passados foram revividos a semana passada. A mina está encerrada desde 1992 mas tem um historial de 80 anos durante os quais milhares de trabalhadores extraíram 1,6 milhões de toneladas de mineral utilizável ( especialmente Uranio) e deixaram ainda mais 2,5 milhões de toneladas de resíduos radioactivos.

Os meus poucos anos na Urgeiriça datam da década de cinquenta quando o meu pai João Manuel Pinheiro depois de completar estudos de engenharia em Inglaterra obteve trabalho na empresa que explorava a mina. Isto significou que a minha mãe Pamela Ineichen e eu passamos ps primeiros tempos de vida em Portugal nesta pequena aldeia do norte no distrito de Viseu. Tambem foi nesta altura que nasceu o meu irmão Pedro (1954).

As fotos deste periodo que tenho no meu album apresentavam-me a brincar à volta da casa ou fazendo piqueniques ou mesmo em periodos na praia. Tinha um triciclo, lembro-me da existencia de pintos de algum galinheiro e não muito mais de memórias me posso gabar desses dias em que dava pelo nome de Titi. A praia, vim a saber, por meu pai era a Ericeira para onde algumas mães íam com os filhos num apartamento alugado com os maridos a juntarem-se aos fins de semana.

A responsabilidade deste memorial todo foi o filme produzido por Ramsay Cameron (Urgeiriça cem anos) relatando a história da mina. Filme este que demontra ao espectador a importancia estratégica e económica da mesma. Muitos aspetos interessantes estão relacionados com a politica a nível mundial durante e depois da segunda guerra mundial, o envolvimento do ditador Salazar nesta verdadeira “ mina de ouro”. Tambem a primeira coneção entre a descoberta do mineral Rádio e de Marie Curie. Tambem a importancia do conhecido hotel Urgeiriça.

As enormes quantidades de Uranio encontradas e necessárias para os programas de armas nucleares pôs um foco único nesta pequena localidade que talvez ficasse de outra forma mais esquecida. O filme tem versões em portugues e ingles e encontra-se com facilidade na internet em https://vimeo.com/158161181. Vejam-no!

O pai de Ramsay Cameron , James, era engenheiro chefe nas minas quando lá viviamos. Fiquei a saber que é a irmã dele Cairine quem aparece na foto que aqui publico. Tambem fiquei a saber que a outra menina é a Dorothy Bennett com quem apareço noutras fotos. Os Bennetts eram outra familia que os meus pais conheciam e com quem se davam.

A importancia de escrever um blogue ficou mais uma vez provada.

Urgeiriça coming to life


The small mining village of Urgeiriça, and my first years spent there all came to life a couple of weeks ago. The mine has been closed since 1992 but has a history of 80 years during which thousands of workers got out some 1.6 million tons of usable mineral (mainly Uranium) and left behind another 2.5 million tons radioactive residuals.

My few years in Urgeiriça go back to the early fifties when my father João Manuel Pinheiro after completing his engineering studies in England got employment in the mine. It meant my mother Pamela Ineichen and I spent our first years in this northern village in the Viseu district. It was also during this time my brother Pedro came to us.

The pictures in my album from this period showed me playing around the house or out on outings and on the beach. I rode a tricycle, I recall the existence of small chicks and not an awful much more in those days when I was nothing else but Titi. The beach, I have now learnt, was Ericeira where the mothers and their children spent time on a rented apartment with their husbands coming down at weekends.

Responsible for this memory revival is film producer Ramsay Cameron. He has made a most interesting film about the history of the mine where the viewer discovers the economic and strategic importance of it. Many interesting aspects touching big world politics during and after the war, dictator Salazar’s involvement in this real “gold mine”. The Marie Curie, radium connection…The importance of the hotel Urgeiriça.

The mine’s large quantities of Uranium, needed for the nuclear weapon project, put a focus on this small and otherwise forgotten area. The film is available both in English as in Portuguese on https://vimeo.com/158161181. Watch it!

Ramsay’s father James Cameron was a chief engineer at the mines during the period that my family were there. I now know that it is Ramsay’s sister Cairine we can see on the photo shown above. I also learnt from Ramsay that the other girl is Dorothy Bennett. The Bennets were another family that my parents knew and spent time with.

The importance of writing a blog has been proven again.

Welcomed home


After a long wait of nearly six years, conditions had been  created for a return to Portugal without risking being accused of escaping the army. In that summer of 1974 it was decided we would take the trip and fly to Lisbon. With us the new baby that we would introduce to great grandparents, Joseph and Pat in London and Bua in Lisbon. Great-grandfather quickly gave the baby a nick name. He became “Barbershop” as he sang himself to sleep.

It would also be the opportunity for grandparents João and Pamela in Lisbon to meet their first grandchild John.

Besides all this, a return to a country that was still celebrating and where everything seemed to be possible. The revolution was on its way and nobody would stop it! Mistakes were made and consequences were laid on those who most  probably  were innocent. But the fear of things going back was there, as were the demands for nationalizations of all types of production. Like all other revolutions things tended to go to extremes. Many people that had businesses were seen as supporters of the recent regime. It was obviously not so.

We were met by my father at the airport, who said- This cannot go back!!!!

But before that landing, the pilot gave us the grand view, which is standard when coming from the north and landing from the south. The plane turns over Lisbon and gives the passenger the opportunity to see this beautiful city across the Tejo’s majestic estuary, the long Caparica coastline to the south and then across the whole city for a landing practically spot on it.

For the first time there was no fear from passport agents, instead a smiling welcome. Benvindos! Suddenly a uniform was something positive. Things had indeed changed. The emotion of this return was strong and I am not capable of putting into words the extension of these feelings.


Travels with Grandpa 2010 (12)

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Day before last in Lisbon… We played cards the whole day and ordered dinner from a restaurant across the road. This restaurant is owned by a man from Bangladesh.
Helena isn’t feeling so well so she stays in as Uncle Pedro, Grandpa
and Patricia travelled to S. Pedro to meet Great grandma Pamela. In the evening the grownups went to the Fado in Rua da Rosa. Fado, we were told is typical Portuguese singing. It was not of the best quality according to Grandpa but the food was OK at the Forcado restaurant.
After that they still had time to sit in the Chinese Pavilion and recover with a drink. -Cheers, Grandpa!

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Last day in Portugal… Andrea arrives in the evening and Grandpa invites everybody back to the nice Nepalese restaurant. Grandpa opens a bank account in a bank in Portugal. We spend most of the day packing and planning on how to get to the airport and if we will get there on time.

Getting to the airport was a piece a cake thanks to Grandpas meticulous planning. We arrived at the airport in good time after catching two separate cabs. After the usual waiting periods we could at last go on board. This plane was called Alexandre O’Neill. When we thought we were about to take off, the plane turned back. The explanation was that the luggage hatch had not been properly closed. O’Neill had decided to pull one on us”-Ó Portugal se fosses só tres silabas, de plástico que era
mais barato”. We left Portugal as always with mixed feelings and already with some melancholy and longing to this country where only the unexpected can be expected. –”Onde só o imprevisto é previsivel e onde um
Portugal desconhecido sempre espera por si”. In Stockholm we were met by floods of rain.

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Travels with Grandpa 2010 (9)

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Portugal is a fantastic country where unexpected things happen all the time! One needs to experience it in order to understand. Patricia believes it is all about holding on to high levels of adrenalin and that people get addicted. For Swedes who do not want everything organized and predictable (if there are any?) it might be seen as relaxing. Grandpa can cope, but gets irritated at times, like when they went to buy train tickets to Viseu and there were no people waiting- but the internet suddenly died. It all eventually started to work again but a lot of time was wasted…

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Time is something that we cannot administer very well in Portugal because of the high rate of improbabilities. We were invited by Great grandpa to eat at the “El Corte Ingles”. We were there at the agreed time. Even Great grandpa was there on time but was waiting at another place and had forgotten his cell phone. Grandpa solved the whole thing by contacting Uncle Pedro who in turn rang Leonor. In any case, Jonatan and Liv were given each a check for 30€ by Greatgrandpa and his wife Leonor. Jonatan bought a pair of football shoes
and Liv a schoolbag. We travelled as fast as we could to S. Pedro and Great Grandma Pamela. She was irritated about several things, which had to do with her health. Everyone went off to the beach, as Grandpa stayed with Pedro to go through some papers with a Notary. Great grandma gave a flat to Grandpa. Maybe we will be able to stay there when we come to Portugal next time. So, thank you Great Grandma!

Travels with Grandpa 2010 (1)


We left Sweden spot on time, on a plane called Florbela Espanca!
This because grandpa drove at a record time from Sundsvall. The newly updated GPS functioned to perfection and for the first time, correctly showed the new road north of Uppsala. The trip went well and we were lucky, to get Jonatan a vegetarian meal, on board. Grandpa offered to land the plane but the captain declined politely but firmly.
In Lisbon there was a huge crowd waiting, in what must be described, as a sort of welcome committee.People ran around on different directions in great excitement as Grandpa held welcome speeches and gave out some information on Lisbon’s history and geography! The group then split up into three different vehicles. Grandpa and Jonatan went off with Greatgrandpa and Leonor (Greatgrandpa’s wife). This was also the first car to arrive at the hotel after a speedy trip with Leonor as co-pilot and Greatgrandpa holding the wheel, in what made us think of the Lisbon rally in WRC. We arrived at the Londres hotel on time to see the second half of the match between Spain and Germany. We saw this, surrounded by loud Spaniards, screaming for joy. The goal scored by David Villa was enough to put Spain on the finals for the first time ever. As the brothers D&D had disappeared for a few hours, Patricia could fulfill a much awaited dream and shared 4 sardines with Grandpa.

Next day Jonatan and Liv went off with Grandpa to visit Greatgrandma. Pamela. Before that, they picked up uncle Pedro, at the beach so he could guide the whole expedition. Pamela was well and stayed at a luxurious home for elderly. Grandpa later invited all for pizzas which was very well appreciated by all concerned. All, were also, very thankful to Grandpa who had managed to acquire tickets for the local train, which seemed to be very complicated in Portugal. Then it was decided that everybody should eat dinner at Vótetta’s. We travelled speedily to Algés. During this trip we all listened to scenes and tales being told from Grandpa’s life to everyone’s overwhelming interest.
Arrived in Algés we got a message that Vótetta was waiting for us at another station. Nothing to worry about…After a while she appeared and all could get into a small car. Grandpa who got to seat in the front offered to push the car on a steep hill but it was not necessary. Everyone was very satisfied with Vótettas wonderful cooking.

Resan2  At Arlanda Airport- Daniel Meneses

The spectators in Mérida


It was as hot as it generally gets in the town of Mérida that august of 1972. It was on this old capital of the Romans- Lusitania province- that we spent some time and met some of my family having reached the nearest point to the Portuguese border we would get to, on the Interrail stretch.

Mérida is an interesting place: founded in 25 BC by order of Emperor Augustus it preserves to our time the longest remaining bridge from the Roman times, the one over the Guadiana River. Some of its remaining monuments are the amphitheater, triumph arch and theatre.

“In 713 it was conquered by the Muslim army under Musa bin Nusair, and became the capital of the Cora of Mérida; the Arabs re-used most of the old Roman buildings and expanded some, such as the Alcazaba.The city returned to Christian rule in 1230, when it was conquered by Alfonso IX of Léon and subsequently became the seat of the priory of San Marcos de León of the Order of Santiago. A period of recovery started for Mérida after the unification of the crowns of Aragon and Castile (15th century), thanks to the support of Alonso Cardenas, Grand Master of the Order. In 1720 the city became the capital of the Intendencia of Mérida.” Wikipedia.

It was sitting on the seats of the ancient theatre that we chose to immortalize our family gathering in the Spanish Extremadura. My sister Joana, a 14 year old teenager, by brother Pedro 18 and my mother Pamela 43 can be seen in the picture together with me João, at 20.Mona, 20 holding the camera!

Nobody could tell when we would be able to see Portugal and being so near was a special feeling for me at any rate.

From now on our return trip was on and our holiday beginning to end. We got in touch with our Spanish cousin Martinho and it was decided we would pay him a call when we arrived in Madrid!



Caprichos da moda


Quem tivesse, como eu, crescido na década de sessenta em Portugal, teria que fazer um grande esforço para acompanhar a revolução da moda desses anos. É que com os Beatles houve grandes convulsões que tinham como objectivo mostrar a irreverencia de quem era jovem. Esta revolta juvenil, viria a culminar nos acontecimentos de Paris em maio de 1968.

Eu, por exemplo, passava horas a tentar seguir o que faziam os meus ídolos, de Liverpool. Não sei até que ponto é que os quatro guedelhudos eram vistos com bons olhos pela ”situação”. De qualquer forma muitos rapazes passaram por maus bocados por deixarem crescer o cabelo. Quem quisesse seguir a moda teria que depender de contrabando ou da única boutique em existência em Lisboa “ Os Por-fi-ri-os”.

Quando fui a Londres consegui o meu designio de adquirir os tais sapatos bicudos com elástico lateral. Muitos amigos de Carcavelos falavam dum sitio (Quinta dos Lombos?) onde se podiam adquirir jeans da marca Levi’s mas eu nunca lá cheguei a ir pois não teria dinheiro que chegasse para tais compras.

Uma imagem bastante marcante na Praceta foi o aparecimento casual de uns alemães com calças boca de sino. Aquilo sim, era elegancia! Até parecia que os rapazes vinham doutro planeta. E tinham perna comprida! Eu pelo menos andava desejoso de poder imitá-los!

Mas a minha grande vitória, recuando um pouco no tempo,  foi quando depois de meses de persuação consegui que a minha mãe cedesse a deixar-me andar de calças compridas em vez dos calções curtos! O resultado foi uma lágrimazinha de tristeza no olho da minha mãe e uma de alegria no meu!


Os legendários e os heróis do Oeste


Não tivemos televisor em casa até nos mudar-mos para a Praceta em Carcavelos! Antes disso era nos cafés que se via televisão. Mas o meu contacto com algumas séries foi anterior a esses anos mas já na década de 60. Isto porque ambos os meus pais tinham acesso a laboratórios onde tinham que manejar uma moviola com a finalidade de produzir legendas para a televisão e cinema.

Recordo-me primeiro de ter ido com a minha mãe algumas vezes para uns laboratórios da Tóbis onde conheci a série america “The Lucy Show”. A minha mãe Pamela que não dominava o português assim tão bem, “captava ” os diálogos em inglês que escrevia em folhas de papel à mão e que depois outra senhora traduzia! O trabalho na moviola podia ser bem maçador pois às vezes tinha que se fazer um vaivém constante do filme para entender exactamente os diálogos!

 Quanto ao meu pai já era ele quem fazia o trabalho completo de tradução e até às vezes tinha que marcar onde cada legenda tinha que entrar com um lápis amarelo. Íamos para uns escritórios que penso eram da RTP atrás do Estádio de Alvalade e era quando havia jogos em casa que lhe fazia companhia durante umas horas, que pareceriam intermináveis.

 Nessa época dos principios da TV haviam séries muito populares quase sempre de origem americana como por exemplo a série Bonança em que tres irmãos e seu pai tinham um rancho no Oeste onde sempre aconteciam muitas aventuras. Nessa época os artistas de cinema por serem ainda em númers reduzido eram grandes estrelas. A célebre e popular familia Cartwright do rancho Ponderosa, era constituída pelo pai Ben e pelos filhos Little Joe, Hoss e Adam. Fizeram mais de 400 episódios entre 1959 e 1973 e eu pessoalmente não gostava de perder nenhum. Tal era o interesse que escrevi para os estúdios de onde recebi uma foto autografada desses heróis da pradaria! Não percam aqui o filme de entrada que nos entrava pela casa ou pelo café uma vez por semana!

O instituto Britânico

institutoO Instituto Britânico na Rua Luis Fernandes em Lisboa bem perto da Escola Politécnica  foi parte integrante da mina vida. Se por um lado era o Instituto que me levava a mãe a não estar muito em casa era tambem motivo de orgulho e um sitio que sempre me foi acolhedor.

A minha mãe dava lá lições de ingles para adultos. Fé-lo durante anos desde a idade dos 30 até se reformar. A sua vida estava intimamente ligada ao Instituto. Cheguei a frequentar uma classe noturna dela sendo a única criança presente e consegui aperceber-me que a mãe Pamela tinha dotes de pedagogia. Era estimada pelos alunos! Na foto está ao centro com uma das suas classes!

O casarão em que fica o Instituto é o antigo palácio onde residiu o milionário brasileiro Luis Fernandes conhecido como o menino de oiro. Foi adquirido pelo British Council e aí ficou instalado desde 1951. O British Council deve promover e fortalecer a cultura Britânica.

Guardo muitas memórias do Instituto. Foi aí que na Televisão vimos o casamento da princesa Margarida em 1960. Gostava particularmente da biblioteca bem rechaeada de livros e revistas de futebol onde passava horas.

Nos jardins havia uma relva bem cuidada e uma árvore que dava romãs.Tinha o seu ambiente único, os seus cheiros particulares e cá fora havia a tasca do Sr. Serafim onde o pessoal do instituto se encontrava para confraternização e refeições que segundo me diziam às vezes eram fiadas para os clientes mais habituais.