570-579: On Holiday from a ‘Holiday’ in the Algarve

570 – Sunday 18th December 2016:  Resident in Lagos

We left our really lovely pitch and at the Barragem Arade and headed back to Turiscamp, where we had stayed with the Aged P’s for 4 nights.  A quick stop to fill with LPG, which is easy to find over here and we arrived around lunchtime.  Just as we were hunting out the motorhome services and causing a traffic jam, Margaret and Shirley and their two pooches spotted us.  I went into a mega washing load – having established that my twin tub was not in fact broken … the last site in Olhao where I had used it, had blown the fuse.  Relief, and a good week’s washing plus bedding completed.  M and S (wonder if they get dubbed S&M – can’t imagine that they’re into hurting people!) joined us for a cuppa and a tour of Jez.

571 – Monday 19th: We Gets Wheels

Is it Monday?  One of the many joys of full time travelling is – what day is it?  Well, any day will do – every day is a holiday…  Katherine and Margaret did the fitness stretching class.  I took delivery of our hire car; whilst the campsite is possibly the best we’ve ever stayed on, it is not walking distance to much and we didn’t want to be moving Zez every other day.  The car will also give us access to some of the smaller hill towns.   With me behind the wheel … the first real car I’ve driven since April 2015 (!!!), we headed into Lagos (pronounced “Lagosh” – so we couldn’t avoid “oh my gosh we’re in Lagosh” quips) for a wander and and ice-cream.  The ice creams were delicious – not ‘Siciliano’ standard – do we worry?  Supermarket shopping… an ancient ‘Axiam’ car parked too close and scraped our Ka car a little, whilst I was sat in it with Oscar. The even more ancient driver in sign language vehemently denied everything blaming on me – ‘no blame culture’? …  Fortunately, we have a cover all policy and this little scrape will bend with the others on the car.  

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We dubbed the hire Ford Ka … Os-Ka-Ka.

572 – Tuesday 20th:  Silves

Another gem of a town – Portugal is growing in a major way on us…. cork shops – coffee – very quiet.  K’s purchase of cork items was the shop’s first of the day and the shop seller said the Algarve is quieter than normal for this time of year.  Suits us.  Quiet – a bit like Radio 3 – if you’ve heard the John Coleshaw comedy BB4 Radio show …. “Quiet.  Shhh – there’s nobody out there” .  Other classics from this programme were:   President George Bush wanted to visit ‘Afganistanshire’?  Vice P Dan Quale (allegedly) refused to visit Latin America because he didn’t speak Latin???  We love America…  Do get back on track, James… 


The Silves version of the Roman Bridge … all to do with the style of construction, not age.


Again, lots of storks roosting.  They make one hell of a clatter to communicate.


The Cathedral.


We took turns in the castle.  This was a cistern that now is used as an exhibition space.  However, when it use, the literage fed the whole town with water for a year.


This well is dubbed the well of dogs, as a number to strays were flung down it only to reappear a few days later.  It is believed that an escape passage leads out into the countryside.



Fabulous views all the way round the wall.


Double knockers!  But not the same.   Moorish origin.  The right hand one is smaller and ladies should use this to knock.  The lone woman of the house then knew a lady was at the door and that it would be safe to open it.  But only, of course, if the robber / rapist male played by the rules.


Picnic by the river on a thoughtfully provided bench; fortunately we had equally thoughtfully packed our chairs.

573 – Wednesday 21st December:  Are we Feeling Christmas Yet?

Dawn dawned at the usual hour for us – 0900 hours in military time – Katherine, Mary, Chris and Margaret did the fitness class – I had some (?) difficulty in forcing myself (oh, the pain) to stay in bed for a while longer… 

Shopped for Christmas decorations – thankfully, Portugal has not the UK style of over commercialisation of the festive season…but we are getting more more Christmassy… 

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly…”  We’ve learnt from the cellotape mistake of last year.  It pulled off some of the wood effect when the decs came down.  Using masking tape this year: definitely not as sticky as we have to keep re-sticking bits.

Margaret and Shirley brought Chris (M’s son) and Mary (wife of C) over for soup and cheese and a listen to Handel’s Messiah.  Back home, we’d often seek out a concert or carols and so we had our own bit of culture here.  

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Lights, tinsel and decorations … Oh and the saddest ever of Ponsettias, dropping leaves at a fast rate … should make it to Christmas Day, but not, perhaps New Year.

574 – Thursday 22nd December:  Alvor

Alvor is not far away and we didn’t visit the town, but it definitely the best beach we have seen for ages – it goes one for miles – stunning (have we used that word before on our travels – a lot?) sunset…fabulous!  We did a circular walk, starting along a path behind the dunes by the wide tidal estuary.

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Clam pickers at low tide.

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Lots of names picked out in stone … I wonder how often the stones are recycled.

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575 – Friday 23rd December: Faro

Faro is the capital of the Algarve, so relatively large.  The walled old town centre is nice to visit, but not too much to see and therefore maybe not return.   Our visit weather was cold to begin – a warming coffee in a local bar – and then – wall to wall sunshine!  The TIC chap told us to hurry along to a Church dedicated to St Francis as it had some really good blue tiles depicting his life (no pix allowed).  A really nice Cathedral – good views from the roof top walk… an excellent lunch – with – chips for moi….   We even bumped into Margaret, Shirley, Chris and Mary … small world!  We then headed to the Faro Forum … massive shopping mecca.  I stayed in the car with Oscar, once we’d found a parking place and watched the pre-Christmas stressed frenzy of people trying to get parked.  

K: I bought  replacement hard drive as the main one we used had packed up and Seagate would have wanted over £500 to rip the data from it !!!  Fortunately most data and pix were backed up to another hard drive and Dropbox, but we’ve lost the albums that we’d uploaded to iTunes … they’ve been dragged into the replacement iTunes, but having lost all their metadata, they appear as tracks with no artist or album attached … if anyone has any ideas ….?  There was also a massive Jumbo superstore, so i bought what I needed for Christmas.  The Algarve, is NOT cheap.  I spotted a bottle of Brockman’s Gin – a snip at EUR38 … it was delivered at home for under £30.  It stayed on the shelf!  I did find some Bols Advocat – now that is Christmassy 🙂


Dome full of christmas Trees decorated by the local community.


Typical old town street.


The Se – the Cathedral.


Views from the top …




Beautiful blue tiles inside …


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With wonderful baroque wood carvings …


… Check out the number of cherubs – enough to open a kinder garten!


This one’s trouble … he’s a rapper!


Small, but a Chapel of Bones.


One of the old town gates.


Would that be chips James?  Must be another lunch then!!!

576 – Saturday 24th December:  Christmas Eve

Running quite early, I went back to my roots – some sprint training repetitions – 600 metre reps with slow recoveries – magic endorphins – or is it ‘el dolphins’ – I had quite forgotten the benefits of intensive exercise.  

Oscar got a rather severe trim … two months worth of fur and fluff … a little too bald in places; we’re having to apply sun lotion!

Supper with Margaret, Shirley, Mary and Chris in the bungalow … Haute Cuisine salmon and too much wine…  

The forecast is good for our second Christmas Day away – we hear it will be the warmest Christmas for many years in the UK.   

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OK, we can live with this!

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Oscar helping and doing his Pilates 100’s!

577 – Sunday 25th December:  It Must be Christmas Day!

A slow start … something to do with K’s foggy brain …. too much imbibed last night.  A sort of American style supper day – Tapas at ours at 1:00 pm, rest – dinner at S&M’s later – lots of silly games – pass the orange via bodily parts – enough of that…  A yummy Portuguese Chicken casserole and Mary made the most stunning Christmas Pudding, ever!  Songs, recitations, Charades – I even managed to imitate Robby Williams song ‘Angels’ for my Charade… Note the silly sunglasses…

If you can’t be with family, being with good friends in 20 C sunshine cuts it pretty well.  It’s a good life…

We remembered absent friends in our toasts… 


Just how photogenic is Shirley – sporting her Xmas sun glasses.


We all had sunglasses and hats …


… except Oscar who just had tinsel, which did stay on all day!


Don’ ask!  It involved two oranges and gales of laughter.


And we only met yesterday!


Racing Santas:  oops two hit the deck and mine is doing an about turn. 


Main course and pud in the warmth of the bungalow.    The panorama shot did something a bit strange to the visage of our menfolk and Mary really does not have a bottle up her nose!


Shirley singing her especially written song for Christmas.  We were all in it and sang along to the chorus (except me, as I can’t sing a note!)

578 – Monday 26th December:  Praia da Roche, near Portimao

Beaches in Portugal are wonderful – in December – August must be overcrowded – we like ‘uncrowded’ places…. last Christmes in Punta Braccetto in Sicilia  was great but here there is more to do all around – ‘Ola’ to Dan and our friends in that lovely area – magic sunsets there too.  Walking along the cliff top and then on the beach  – ‘whoops no wallet’ – so no ice creams – but – (but K had preprared  a magic picnic).

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Amazing rock formations.

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Portomao looks totally uninviting … a town planners embarrassing scene of high rises.  I keep wanting to call it Torremolinas.  Can’t begin to imagine how packed this beach much be in high season with the amount of accommodation.

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Oscar joining me on our picnic bench.


579 – Tuesday 27th December: In Search of Shoes and Needles

We headed into Portimao centre in search of new running shoes for K – Aged P’s pressie and the correct sized knitting needles.  No luck today: shops shut for holidays or the wrong staff in.  

Evening BBQ – with S&M – M&S?  Sparks and Mincers?  Spanks and monsters?  Steady, James…  K is a pyromaniac with a firelog, as we know, Oscar… we are forbidden to mess with said ‘lirefog’!  












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