Sunday, July 31

sete ais

I was born in nineteen seventy, which means that seven years later, in nineteen seventy seven, I was seven. And in that year of nineteen seventy seven, I came to Portugal for the first time.

We stayed with some friends who were living here at the time, and they took us on a grand tour of middle Portugal as is customary for expats when we/they get visited from afar. Take them to see “the sights”.

One of the biggest tourist “sights” is the Palácio de Pena, a hideous creation of a twisted mind in Sintra which looks like something Hasbro would create for Barbie in pure unadulterated plastic… a sight well worth seeing.


I can’t find the photo anywhere, so I’ve drawn it from memory, only certain of the bowl haircut that I had at the time and the stripey peppermint dress from clothkits (remember clothkits? Now, THERE’S a thing that should be resurrected). That’s me. At seven. With the Palácio de Pena in the background.

Down the hill from Pena, is another palace, this one much more tasteful. I’ve been lucky enough to have been to a wedding there and it is just gorgeous yum-yum inside. This palace (and the area it is in) is called Seteais.

No-one knows where the name Seteais (pron. Setty-Eyshe) came from, but there’s a legend that a Moorish Princess was held prisoner there, and she died, but just before she died, she let out seven deep and heartfelt cries, known in Portuguese as “ais”.

What the bloody hell did she do that for?

And why would you suddenly name a village or palace after someone's death throes?

Honestly. These things just get made up to fit the bloomin’ answer, don’t they?


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