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What is it about the southern European countries that make it acceptable to let your buildings fall into decay? Is it just the hot weather making it a battle not worth fighting, or is it just a more relaxed way of life? I've seen this all over Europe, and a recent trip to Portugal presented the same scenario. Take a lovely little town, smashing people and a great community based around their traditional houses, most of which would not last 5 minutes back in the UK before being either repainted, rerendered, or knocked down.

(c) Jon McRae Photography

When dwellings fall into a state of repair beyond saving, they are just left and forgotten about - no consideration for the space they are occupying or the value they may hold. Perhaps this is the root issue - the land doesn't have the value that it may hold in the UK, as there is not the demand for it.

Even those dwellings that were still inhabited showed signs of peeling paintwork - several layers of it - and rotten timbers. And these aren't poor places, or squalid conditions - families still live happily in these homes - it's just normal.

(c) Jon McRae Photography

Perhaps this normality has passed us by. We all put so much emphasis on our houses being pristine, inside and out. At the first signs of peeling paint, the decorators are called in to rectify, or its covered in cedar cladding or composite tiles. But why? Perhaps the high value of property in the UK and the high value of the land it sits on then forces us to work frantically to keep maintain those values, at the expense of stress levels and fatigue of the average middle-aged, ever-working homeowner.

Perhaps we need to take a leaf out of the Portuguese book. The paint's peeling, but hey, we'll leave it another year and just chill out.

See more of my photos from Portugal on my Flickr page

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