As dawn broke it was clear that the sky was blue! Still windy, but the makings of a beautiful day at last!
We ate breakfast and headed off to the sea – what a stunning coastline – very rocky but with little sandy coves at the right time of tide!
We threw caution to the wind having found a neat little sandy cove with steps down into it…. let’s let the dog off for a run – Nick stood guard by the steps to intercept him should he try to leg it! Even we couldn’t lose him here – surely?
All went very well – he tore up and down the beach and gleefully dived into the waves – got soaked and tore up the beach some more – and then shot towards Nick like a bat out of hell and straight past him!
Tore up the stairs and disappeared… all the calling and whistling in the world didn’t make a difference! We ran up the steps and once on the top found Bert having his ‘collar felt’ by a nice local who’d obviously been watching us over the top of the cove – I dare say Bert had probably seen him and decided to go say hello! He handed him over, laughing, and we decided to make sure Bert was on him out on a training leash if we ever try that again – at least we’ll have 15ft of trailing lead to our advantage!
What’s this stuff – anyone know? It’s all over the cliffs at Porto Covo… pretty!
On the way back the rain pelted down again, not before I captured a nice rainbow!
Came back and Nick foraged in the local shop for chicken pies (yum) Empanada du Frango, and little lemony custard tarts for lunch – Lovely!
I worked for a bit on my laptop and did another 3 1/2 hours… all ready to email once we find appropriate WIFI. Wrote up the blog until 8.30, then an early supper and ready for tomorrow.
Porto Covo – Figuera
Oh yes! This morning arrived with a clear blue sky – we decided that today would be a great day to go to the “pointy bit” – the westernmost point in Europe… so we got ready and on the road early – did a shop at Lidl on the way, and arrived at Figuera at 2pm.
Bert found the journey stimulating – not!
The aire here is small but perfectly formed, and has a really nice feel about it. 6euros/night for everything including electricity and the best WIFI we’ve found yet. The sky is amazing today, with barely a cloud in sight – this is it – the only one.
We’ve decided we’re going to stay a day or 2 here, even got the chairs out and sat in the sun. The shorts came out too – lord we have scary, milk-white legs!!! Thinking we’ll barbecue tonight – picked up a pork loin today that’ll take some chinesey marinade, and some lovely veg and salad – looks like Nick’s cooking again!
The aire is family run, everyone’s friendly and there are chickens in the yard (mostly penned – so Bert can’t chase them)!
We have some Dutch and English neighbours – both long-term – and a couple of us moving types! We are told there is a small secret beach through the valley – Nick takes Bert to try and find it on the bike… Me? I have a vodka and coke and I’m reading my book sitting in the sun in shorts and a vest! – YES! We’re joined in the afternoon by a lone Brit in a Hymer – out for 9 weeks doing the same circuit as us. (LINPIC BBQ)
Our first BBQ of the year! We ate watching the sun go down – once it goes down it’s bloody cold! But what a contrast to the last week…. now the heating is on and we’re very happy bunnies – hope it continues like this for a while!
It got pretty chilly overnight – we can always tell – Bert sits at the bottom of the bed ladder asking (quietly but persistently) to be allowed up! He’s a pretty good hot water bottle too! We were woken by 3 separate cockerels each with very different voices – who needs an alarm clock!
The sky is clear this morning, but clouds are on the horizon – forecast is overcast today… we’ll probably explore a bit. Bertie is nicely chilled and ready for a walk this morning. Met our neighbour, Mike, properly this morning – he’s a live-aboard from Wales. We share the same wifi and data roaming issues! Took Bert up to the village in search of bread, and met 3 local hounds – one friendly and waggy – one huge and over-interested mastiff – and one openly aggressive, snarly, scruffy ‘orrible dog! Portugal should be renamed land of the barking dogs, they’re at it most of the day and well into the night! At least Bert has given up trying to join in!
Nick found bread and some local Rosemary Honey – it’s gorgeous! Made a huge batch of soup last night which we had for lunch – I MUST stop cooking for 6!!! It’s something I’ve always done – some for now – some for the freezer any time we need a quick meal on the run – but now I don’t HAVE a freezer, just a little frozen food compartment – and we can’t always share our food!
We enjoyed eating outdoors but then it got overcast and a bit chilly – we decided on a bike ride. Says Capn Bligh “Let’s go to the beach – it’s only 20 minutes walk down there” (indicates a small track). OK – Nick’s bike has a puncture so he fixes it before we leave – then he heads off with Bert and me tail-end Charlie – not in the “20 minute” direction – but uphill towards the village and down the road – where we were hotly pursued by ‘orrible dog… Nick and Bert took off, followed by another fluffy little yapper – and ‘orrible dog saw me off! Chased me down the bloody road snarling at my heels – my little legs have never pedalled so hard! He gave up eventually when we turned left off the road into a valley.
Some of you will see where this is going – yep – a hill, a fairly steep one; at the summit of which there were 2 options – turn left, and UP – or straight on, and DOWN…. but of course upon the return DOWN=UP and vice versa! I chose up – off we went – cycling/pushing the bikes – until I was purple in the face and had to stop for a little rest and a drink of water! A friendly (American!) chap recommended the ‘easy beach’ as opposed to the ‘secret beach’, promising that the road ‘levelled out’ a bit. It did – but only for a very little bit – and nowhere near enough for me!
The purple-faced, panting member of our happy trio decided that the beach could ‘do one!” as the return journey was going to be hard enough already!
I just couldn’t face that push over the hill lol!
And guess who was waiting for us as we slogged up the road to the village? Yep – ‘orrible dog… he just stood in the road and took one look at us, then slowly walked to the pavement and slumped down against a doorway – clearly we’re not even good enough sport for the village tough guy – he barely raised his head as we passed by!
Exercise over for today we returned and planned to have supper with Mike the Hymer. He cooked a HUGE cauliflower cheese, and we made sausages, seafood rissoles and ate cheese and the last of our Iberico chorizo. Lovely evening nagging and eating and sharing more Terres de Selmes… and my Facebook fix concluded with the lovely Terry Chapman hugging my girly for me at band rehearsal, and posting a pic on Facebook! What more could a girl want?!? Perhaps not my husband videoing me a little worse for wear – fooling around with an empty winebox…
We had another little mishap today – we discovered that our lovely, super cheap, less than £9 LPG refill had gone…overnight. We put this down to a couple of factors a) the IC1 and it’s remarkable undulations and b) our complacency in believing our bottles would sit still with the useless straps provided and not twist around moving the discharge pipe and breaking the seal on the connection – dumping all our gas to ground overnight!!! Well – in future we’ll not be lazy, and rely on switching bottles from inside the cab… we’ll lock the bottles off and open them when we want to use them! Commence tie-down strap repair/replacement!
It rained most of the night, and we woke to a hazy, chilly sort of morning – the shorts are on, but sweatshirts are the order of the day! Shame I can’t remember how to put one on!!! Note to self: unzipping before applying works better…..
Going to write up the blog and sort emails today, and head off tomorrow morning to pastures new. The sun has come out so we’re making use of the washing machine here for some laundry… Yours truly is catching up with the blog so we can post it today… it takes such a long time to sort out the photos and download them off our various devices – I still haven’t worked out how to do video clips yet (probably not a bad thing!). It’s been a hive of industry – van cleaned, blog written, illustrated with pics and uploaded, washing done, and now the wine is poured and it’s time to chill out…… Seemed like I spent all day on the computer though! Had the rest of our delish pork for supper with salad, settled down to read and Nick got called upon to help Mike with his site/blog setting up – talk about the blind leading the blind!
Emergency calls to the tech guru Danny illuminated the way – and at 11pm they were still working to crack it! Cheers Danny! If anyone fancies this small aire check it out at www.figueracaravanpark.com
Figuera – Pera (Mikki’s Place to Stay)
it’s a beautiful morning – we’re in two minds whether to stay – its such a lovely little place! We make the decision (albeit reluctantly) to move on – refill with water and say our goodbyes…
the hills hereabouts really are covered in Rosemary no wonder the honey tastes so good!
We’ve been seeing support vehicles for some kind of bike race all morning (possibly the Volta ao Algarve?) cars full of bikes, police motorcycles etc everywhere.
We see just a few actual cyclists as we pass through Lagos but not many – we need to fill a bottle with gas so we’re headed for the nearest LPG station – BP in Lagos. Once there, we can’t get the gas pump to fill properly…. after 2 attempts we think we have put in 19 litres (or blown it into the air) – now for some diesel and we’re outta here!
We’ve seen a couple of aires that are a possibility for tonight – a hippy looking pottery commune in Pera which looks interesting – and another a little closer to the coast in Albufeira.
Upon closer examination it looks like our second gas bottle is refusing to fill – it’s reading full but it’s not – it’s empty… no matter what Nick does it refuses to take any gas, and it’s definitely empty as Nick can lift it with a couple of fingers! the sunny day is awasting and kinda wish we’d stayed put now! as we aren’t using gas for heating any longer we decided not to worrry about the gas and to head for the pottery community….
Wow! So glad we did – it’s enormous with about 180 pitches, but it is also a very quirky place, with a rather interesting mix of clientele… they seem predominately Dutch, but also Germans, Belgians and French and yes, Brits!
The evidence of the owner’s (Mikki) obsession is EVERYWHERE; from the entry gate with it’s interesting pottery spears, the individually crafted tiles marking each pitch number – to the amazing covers on the scaffold which holds up the roof of the bar/restaurant/pottery/reception area!
There are little doggies everywhere – Bert has already made friends with a lovely ginger springer-ish spaniel, and a Jack Russell – YES! A Jack Russell… previously the bane of his life!
He didn’t fare so well when we went down to the bar and he met Lulu, one of Mikki’s 3 dogs. She was definitely up for a scrap and sorting him out lol!
We met Gerald and Lesley from Pembrokeshire at the bar, and ended up gassing about gas…. the burning subject of the day is the number of French campervans filling all the sites in the Algarve, having been put off visiting their usual haunts in Morocco.
Some scaremongering reports quote no fewer than 26,000 extra vans in the Algarve from France. When one does the calculations it’s pretty unlikely that lot could be transported across on ferries in a whole year(!) and the subject was hotly debated/contested for a while, but returning Swedish who had moved on from Mikki’s to Albufeira had experienced totally full sites everywhere and had returned to Mikki’s Place for a bit of peace!
We’d arrived in Portugal in February – Carnival Season – and Mikki and her partner were putting on a barbecue and party tomorrow to celebrate their first anniversary of operation, just 10 euros for food and drink, so we signed up and hoped we would meet a few more friends at the party.
The internet signal is a bit crap – realising we were totally spoiled at Figuera! If you can get it to stay on it’s just about enough to update facebook…. not a lot else! Tried to call Linda and Kim on video call but it wasn’t having any of that – so settled for a regular chat on the phone – it was so nice to hear their voices. Returned to cheese on toast which my dear husband managed to spread over just about EVERY surface of the little oven (!) and a great night’s sleep.
Pera (Mikki’s Place)
Sun sun sun! What a lovely way to wake up! Whilst cleaning the remainder of last nights oven and melted cheese battle, we watched the early morning shenanigans of our Dutch neighbours – clearly once they had settled in their pitches they were not going to move for love nor money – and that means fetching and carrying water in buckets and containers – all their waste water is carried down by the bucketful to the service and fresh gets carried back…. I guess we’re just lazy – we drive onto the service and fill with water and dump waste at the same time. Perhaps we’re keener to drive the vans than they are? nah – just plain lazy!
We’ve taken loads of pictures of this bonkers site today – I love it…
The anniversary celebration kicked off at 1pm, with everyone gathering at the bar area.
There was a keyboard player, who was joined alternately by a clarinetist, and a drummer, two harp players, and eventually a fab violinist who pranced his way around the building!
Food was super – curried chicken drumsticks to start –
2nd course an open burger with chips and salad,
3rd course pork belly, sausage, salad and more chips….
4th course delicious almond cake and icecream, and a drink – all for 10euros.
Very good value and the atmosphere could not have been nicer… the eating and drinking stretched out over about 6 hours, and we are both very tired and very drunk now!
We’ve decided this is as good a place as any to stay for a few days and really chill out for a while.
Woke very late – feeling the after effects of drinking all afternoon — ouchy heads this morning!
Well our purple-haired hostess Mikki certainly laid on a party to remember; addressing the partygoers in Dutch, Flemish, German, English and French no less!
I think we both need a bit of R & R today – its a bright day but very windy – not nicest day to sit outside, but that’s what I’m going to do, once I decide what to cook today.
Whatever it is we’re going walking… we left via an orange grove, kept going down the lane towards the village, past a very nice house, and another orangery – and soon lemon trees were hanging over the walls – too good to miss!
Helped ourselves to a couple – very yummy!
Walked to the main road and reluctant to walk along it, we turned back the same way and strolled back.
I had a small chicken to use so I made Peri Peri chicken with my newly acquired lemons! and made a cassoulet with some spare rib chops. Should be enough to keep us going for a day or two!
We booked to stay on at the site, but unfortunately had to move pitches as the whole top row were reserved for a group of Danes who were arriving soon and our slot was needed…. we’re now at the end of the site on the edge of the (soon to be constructed) fishing hole!
The showers here are free (tiled with tiles made on site – colourful) hot and fabulous!
We spent a chilled evening reading and nattering. Well that’s another week…. it dawned on us that we’re actually a quarter of the way through our trip…. what a depressing thought! Better make the most of it!
Back for more blogging next week!