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… 

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

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

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The Cathedral.

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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.

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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.

 

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Fabulous views all the way round the wall.

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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.

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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 🙂

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Dome full of christmas Trees decorated by the local community.

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Typical old town street.

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The Se – the Cathedral.

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Views from the top …

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Beautiful blue tiles inside …

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With wonderful baroque wood carvings …

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

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This one’s trouble … he’s a rapper!

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Small, but a Chapel of Bones.

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One of the old town gates.

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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… 

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

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We all had sunglasses and hats …

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

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

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And we only met yesterday!

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

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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!

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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’!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

554-563: The Aged P’s and Portugal

554 – Friday 2nd December 2016:  Driving Day and Villa Real San Antonio

We basically awoke surprisingly OK after the excess of last night …. led astray by the Grey Gappers!  Having recently spent a few additional spontaneous nights at different places (we blame the company we’re meeting!), we had to head straight for Portugal for our rendezvous with my Aged P’s near Lagos.  We overnighted at VRSA (Villa Real San Antonio), having been told that it was a good stop over for cheap towels, bathrobes etc.  We parked in the gated aire there …. really not very pleasant and EUR4.50, as it was crowded, some rubbish and barking stray dogs if you headed one way…. all a bit derilict like the railway station adjacent.  However, it was walking distance to the town.  Essentially a few streets, selling only linen and towels.  The only other premises were cafes – we were not moved to stop and sample.  I did buy 3 small hand towels for Jez though.

555 – Saturday 3rd December:  Lagos – Turiscamp and THE AGED P’S 🙂

The Aged P’s had booked a bungalow for 4 nights at Turiscamp in Lagos and then for another 4 at Olhao … we’re stopping in Jez.  We’ve done this before, and the benefit of having them really close by is brilliant for those (all of us) that like to have a drink!  Turiscamp is extremely well run and clean.  I’ve never seen washrooms with smart tiles like here.  Don’t know how we do it, but we both pretty much arrived at the same time …   So good to see them.

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All immaculate, but given the rain there were not many users.

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Large pic, as need it for so many bottles.  Most of this is sherries … for sampling and comparing.  Tonight, we just finished a Canasta and ???, I forget!


556 – Sunday 4th December –  A Tax-ing Lunch

J here on:  One of the letters that Diane and Grahame brought was news of a tax rebate of £4k for me – an instant excuse for a good lunch out !  Excellent luncheon at a recommended fish restaurant in Lagos…..  Wines to accompany the dishes…Heavy rain most of the day !

Sherry sampling tonight was two Manzanillas and a Tio Pepe – a neighbouring motor homing lady saw the bottles on the booze bar in our van – she laughed when K said the contents had already been much reduced – by sampling !

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Prawns with garlic, salmon and swordfish … no room for pud.  We’re discovering that portion sizes in Portugal are HUGE. 

557 – Monday 5th December – Lagos

We wandered around the town centre and bought ice cream, some window shopping and some sunshine….  We even managed to loose Dad for a short while, but her turned up again like the proverbial bad penny, having already had an ice cream…

Sherry sampling tonight was the best of last night – the Tio Pepe and two Olorosso

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Even out of season, Lagos is geared to tourists.

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The market place where slaves were first traded.

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I did a couple of loads in my twin tub and turned the Aged P’s deck into a Chinese Laundry … spot the girl guide line back and forth from the eaves!

 

558 – Tuesday 6th December – Moncheekie (actually Monchique)

Aged P’s had been before and knew where to go … Caldas de Monchique – slightly bizarre spa hamlet with a nice atmosphere, built at the head of the spring, with a bottling plant and a spa hotel.  A few bars … so …early glasses of wine and uphill to a beautiful picnic spot …

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…  up to Foia, the highest peak in the Serra de Monchique.  Almost at the top we stopped for a picnic.  Mostly but great views out to the Atlantic (we thought it may be the S coast, but I checked it in the guide book).  Several cars were stopping to fill water containers from a spring … K went to investigate.  The very nice chap (38 yrs old, a site foreman who has worked all over Europe on major constructions, spoke excellent English and is home for a month for Christmas) gave me a 5 litre container to take away!  I spoke to an Irishman who has lived in London for 50 years and still has retained his inner city “Liberties”accent…

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Out to sea over humpy ground … I thought it looked volcanic (most places are!) and evidence of a recent fire.

Sherry sampling tonight was the best Olorosso of last night and a Cream and Moscatel.  Think we may have hit the Perdro Ximenez too!

 

559 – Wednesday 7th December 2016:  A Move East and a BBQ

We packed up from Turiscamp in Lagos and headed east to Olhao.  Whilst the Aged P’s bungalow was larger it was dark in side with dated decor … but it did have a great patio for a BBQ.  Sherry sampling tonight was a free for all, drinking up the ends of a lot of bottles!

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560 – Thursday 8th December:  Tuk Tuk Tavira and THE SEA BASS

Tuk Tuk treat was a Piaggio scooter driven rickshaw – electric power – Joachim was our very well informed guide – a one hour tour gave us an excellent potted history of Tavira…

Lunch at an Irish pub “The Black Anchor” turned out to be the most spectacular meal of the Aged Ps visit.  we’d only stopped for a drink thinking an Irish bar is not going to present the best of Portuguese fare, but how wrong were we – melon, parma ham, sea bass, veal, garlic prawns and fish cakes……..xxxxx  and wine… definitely worth the positive Tripadvisor post from K – and the same for the Tuk Tuk tour…..

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The Roman Bridge – called so due to its shape.

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Outside the free to enter small castle on one of the three hills … a garden and tower inside with views.

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We all just fitted in … and Oscar, who some unaccountable fear of my father (a dog friendly person … has to be … he’s dog sat, walked and fed all my other dogs), even lay quietly under his legs.

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561 – Friday 9th December:  Estoi and Milreu

Estoi promised much – and didn’t really deliver! A Pousada hotel (SLHW – “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”) built from an old palace – the guide books were out of date – the much vaunted gardens were shut and having rebuilding works – from what we could see, they were very early stages in this.  After a fairly brief walk, we selected a small cafe bar for lunch – and the resulting food was not very good!  On our tours, there have not been many places where we have experienced disappointment – not  a bad result in 20 months of full-time travelling…

On our way out of town, we looked for the Milreu Roman ruins – and guess what – we didn’t stop to even look having no signage to help us find them.    

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No entry here … 

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Very little to see garden wise, but you can see the impressive building of the Pousada behind.

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Square where we had the rubbish quality lunch … a nativity scene under the tarpaulin. 

 

562 – Saturday 10th:  Olhoa and a BBQ

Olhao town on Saturday has a bustling market – Grahame drove and found free parking near an carpark full of motorhomes.  Lots of caged birds, turkeys and chickens on sale – is Christmas coming soon?  K not tempted to buy a gooble cock and fatten it up!  We let Oscar off for a good romp along the seafront. A bit later, we found – guess what? – a cafe bar – for a glass of vino tintos!  Only one – as we had planned a BBQ for the afternoon….at chez Jez. 

I fired up the Weber (invented in Chicago – as was the Ferris Wheel – no obvious connection to Portugal – just nice to keep our reader informed…) with lumped charcoal from the Murco Fuel Station on the Gloucester Road near Almondsbury… will you get back on topic, James please!  OK so I won’t describe the ‘twigettes’ I used for kindling, then….  

Chicken and bits – and wine – for 4 ‘OS’ folks – no, not Ordinance Survey people – just ‘Old Soaks’!  No Sherry … tonight was a Port night.  White as an aperitif and a good red after.

Reasonably early to bed – Grahame and Diane will leave for a few days in Faro in the morning…and then back to the UK winter wonderland – just imagine readers – they have to wait a whole month before their next holiday in the sun in South Africa!  Life’s a real bummer…

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Faro is off to the left.

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Yes, mother is at the coffee again … all this caffeine really is not good for one!

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If not a pet turkey, how about a canary?

 

563 – Sunday 11th December 2016:  A Dry Day and Cleaning

After a nice week with K’s parents – outings and dining – we decided to have an alcohol-free day!  Yes, really!!!   Although we had not warmed to the campsite, as it is a bit higgledly piggledy laid out with lots of permanent caravans and campers, we decided to stop another day.  We’ve never seen so many huge Concordes and Carthegos … Nordic countries were well represented.  Today was van cleaning – our campsite has very sandy soil which seems to want to spread itself all inside our Jez home …  We had a ‘dry’ BBQ – unheard of!

You may notice our ‘booze bar’ is greatly reduced in quantity… but the produce was hugely enjoyed …

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