31st January 2011 – Silves to Barragem do Arade

31 01 2011

Wanting to give Mom the complete ‘wild camping’ experience we decided to go to the Barragem do Arade today. It was a cold wind blowing so after a short trip to the supermarket we made our way into the countryside, toward the Barragem. We arrived to find less motorhomes there than I would have expected but it was nice to bump into Don and Lin again (the couple who we spent New Year with). After a bite to eat Lorna went with Mom and Jack for a walk whilst I, feeling a little under the weather, stopped at the motorhome and chilled out for a while. We lit the barbeque to cook our dinner which was typical barbeque food of sausages and burgers, simple and tasty.


30th January 2011 – Tavira to Silves

30 01 2011

Up early this morning as we had to get to the airport at Faro for 10.15 to pick up my Mom who is over in the Algarve for a week with us, checking up on me, seeing what I am doing with my life and coming for the ‘motorhoming experience’, and of course, to see us both. We arrived at the airport bang on time and as we were so punctual I parked right outside the arrivals building and we went in side. Panic set in as we couldn’t see an arrival from Birmingham on the board at all, Manchester, Stanstead, Gatwick but no mention of Birmingham and no arrival scheduled for 10.15am. Very strange. All of the people coming through arrivals were British so we assumed that it was a mistake and we were right, as soon enough Mom walked through the gate towards us.

We jumped back into the motorhome and headed off to Silves as we wanted our first night to be there, firstly because we wanted to take her to our favorite restaurant and secondly because there was the free and easy music afternoon at the O Cais bar, always a good one. We parked up at Silves and walked Jack into and around town before heading off for lunch where we all had chicken piri-piri and chips, Mom and I indulging ourselves in a piece of cake to finish. Another walk round with Jack followed and then at around 4pm we went to the O Cais and spent the late afternoon, early evening, evening and night drinking, dancing (some of us) and generally having a right old time of it. Back at the motorhome some time later (I can’t remember) we sorted out the sleeping arrangements and had a good nights sleep after a fairly long day.

29th January 2011 – Tavira

29 01 2011

We had a bit of time this morning before our man was due to come round at 1pm to fix the safe properly so we walked along the main road to the small supermarket to get some food for a barbeque that we decided that we would have later on in the day. At 1pm the man came along with our new lock and was soon at work fitting it. He did quite a bit of huffing and puffing (in Portuguese obviously) and finally managed to get the new lock fitted and working, he was trying to tell us that it needed a bit of force to get it to open. Lorna tried to open it and couldn’t so he disassembled it all again and refitted it, this time it worked perfectly, what a star. When we asked him how much we should pay him he looked quite shy and wrote €15 on a piece of paper which we thought was a ridiculous price to charge for the amount of time and work he had put in over two days, not to mention the new lock, so we paid him €25 and told him to buy himself a drink or two.

Mid-afternoon I got the barbeque out and it promptly started to rain so we had to wait a bit for the sun to come out again before I could light it, it gave the pork more time to marinade in the garlic and salt so it was no bad thing. Sun out again, pork on the barbeque and a beer in my hand we chatting to two people who had walked on to the site for a look around. How did they hear about it? My blog. The first people I have met (other than friends etc) who read this, and find it useful. I was most chuffed and it was a pleasure to meet you both Val and Oeds. I will have a read of your blog when I get chance but for others the link is http://www.odolphie.com

A very pleasant afternoon was followed by a most relaxing evening when we watched Shutter Island which was a great film.

28th January 2011 – Tavira

28 01 2011

Lots seemed to happen today but in reality i’m fairly sure that it didn’t……….life on a campsite eh!

Up late we were about to go for a walk into town when we had a knock at a door and five men appeared, two of them Police, one of them the manager of the campsite, “Hello” we thought. They had with them a router and were asking if they could plug it into our electric in the motorhome to test to see if it was transmitting a wi-fi signal or not. Only too happy to help we plugged it in and when they had connected the cable to it we had our very own router running in the motorhome, five bars on the wi-fi signal. They messed around with it for a while and they then told us that they were going for lunch and asking if they could leave it running whilst they were gone, of course we said yes. The Police were obviously having a quiet day as they just watched, chatted and departed at the same time as the others. So, the walk was delayed as we had no idea when they were coming back and wanted to make sure that if they needed the router back then we would be in to give it to them, though we did have a quick walk around with Jack as he had been denied his longer walk. When they returned an hour or so later we really needed to get to the shop to get some things so off we went. On our way we thought that we might ask in reception about where we might find a locksmith to look at our safe so we popped in and, after Google Translator was used to find out exactly what we were asking for, the receptionist smiled and pointed us to one of the men who had been by the motorhome earlier, saying that he was a locksmith and he would be able to sort it. She came out of reception with us and went to talk to the man about our problem, coming back a minute or so later to say that he would be round to sort it once he had finished doing the wiring for the new router (which essentially involved hanging a cable from the reception, over a few trees and on to a lampost in the middle of the park, where the new router was located). So, the walk was delayed again as when we asked how long that might be we were told about 5 minutes.

An hour later the same three men from the morning arrived and soon enough one of them head his head in underneath the seat and was fiddling with the safe, trying numerous different keys and getting nowhere. He went to his van and came back with a big drill and, after explaining that it would ruin the lock he commenced drilling it out. Within about 10 minutes of combined drilling and fiddling the safe was open. There was much cheering. We thought that that would be it but the guy then explained via the manager that he would be able to fit a new lock for us and could he come back the day after and do it. Of course, we said yes. So, safe problem sorted we finally got out for a walk down to the local mini-market to get some things. An early dinner was followed by watching Looking for Eric on DVD on the laptop, the highlight of which was me getting confused and thinking that Eric Cantona wasn’t actually in it when the credits said that Eric Cantona was played by some bloke called Lui Meme……….never heard of him!

27th January 2011 – Algarve International Autodrome to Tavira

27 01 2011

Damn this weather.

It was raining early morning and with that I decided that I would wait a while before going into the circuit to watch the testing. After it let up for a short while Lorna and I took Jack for a short walk and I purchased my ticket to get in. Paul, our friend was with us and there was some misunderstanding about the ticket prices, the poster said €3 for a stand ticket and €5 for a paddock pass so we were both expecting to pay just €5 but it seems that you had to buy a stand pass as well as a paddock pass to get into the paddock area making the cost of entry €8. Paul protested heavily but the pretty girl behind the counter stuck to her guns and quoted the ‘company policy’ thing. I wanted to get in whatever so I paid the extra and was issued with my pass, Paul decided not to go in, the same as Lorna.

Once inside I had a wander around the paddocks looking for the best place to take photographs and the choice wasn’t that great. I spied some photographers in an excellent place but when I tried to get there I discovered that I didn’t have the right pass. I was most put out. It wasn’t busy at all and there were so few people about I really thought that I might have been able to get where I wanted, but no. So, I was stuck with trying to get photographs from inside the paddock area, through wire fences which isn’t ideal really as I then had to keep the aperture wider to produce the depth of field to blur out the wires. This is fine but it not only reduces the depth of field on the subject it also means that shutter speeds are higher which can mean that the blur on the wheels spinning is lost giving a very static feeling to the shot. It’s a complicated set of equations.

Portimao Circuit

Portimao Circuit

I managed to find a decent spot to take some photos from in the end, inside the track, looking down toward the first corner from a higher vantage point than I would have liked. Ideally I would have been set up looking across the apex of a corner where I would have been able to get the kind of shots that I wanted, but as with yesterday, you make the best of what you have. In the end I think that I got better shots than yesterday so all in all i’m fairly happy despite them all being a bit similar.

Portimao Circuit

Portimao Circuit

The program said that the Supersport testing was finishing at 12.30 and then the Superbikes would be coming out. Typically, as soon as 12.25 came the heavens opened and the rain started. I waited for a while, getting wet but then realised that the teams were probably changing tyres etc. and would maybe wait for the rain to stop so I decided that I really would be better just going back to the motorhome and drying off. We decided that lunch would be a good idea so we went along to one of the cafes at the circuit and had chicken and chips with Paul before heading off to the campsite in Tavira where we will be having a clear out, washing and generally getting ready for our visitor on Sunday.

The campsite is great but it has its flaws, mainly that when they are busy there is very limited space to park. When we arrived, the place that we had last time had been taken so we drove around for a while to find an alternative, one close to an electricity point is all we needed, level was a bonus. We finally decided to park near the entrance and once we managed to get the motorhome fairly level I started to run the cable to the electricity box, it wouldn’t reach so we had to find an alternative. We both decided on another place but as we were outide discussing it sone French folk came along and suggested another place, then spent ages with us getting us level, connecting us up and generally being really helpful. All set up and sorted we had a quiet night taking advantage of the free wi-fi and electricty.

26th January 2011 – Silves to Algarve International Autodrome

26 01 2011

It was a slightly sunnier affair today but the rain was threatening to come back so we hung around at Silves for a while before heading off to the motor racing circuit at around 11.30am. Before we got there we had a short trip to the local Lidl to get some chicken for the nights dinner, and some water as we were running low.

We have a problem. We have a safe in the motorhome. This safe has an electronic keypad to operate it. The battery has gone. We can’t find (or even remember having) the key to manually open it. The safe is staying locked. Our passports are inside. Hmmmmmmm

The journey to the circuit wasn’t that long and when we arrived we had a mooch around before deciding to actually pay to go in to the circuit, we could hear the bikes thundering past from outside and Lorna was quite excited to have a look. The entrance fee was either €3 to get into the stands only or €5 to get into the paddock area, as it was early afternoon we decided that a quick look in the stands would do us and so we paid our monies and headed in to the huge stand.

The stands were completely empty which was a bit of a strange experience and the bikes that were testing, the supersport class, were all out, whizzing past us down the straight at ridiculous speeds, probably touching 180mph and making a lovely sound. I had my camera with me and, on my first attempt at motorsport photography I struggled with the panning. I had frame after frame of back wheels, front wheels and blurred riders but eventually I got to grips with it and managed to get a couple of decent photos. These are cropped to hell as I was using a 200mm lens on a full frame camera, not the best combination for this type of photography but you have to make do with what you have in these situations.



If I were going to do more of this type of stuff I would definitely need a longer lens!

When we’d had a good look around we headed back to the motorhome and I cooked our dinner of chicken jalfrezi. After this, as the skies got darker I went out again and took some more photos of the buildings surrounding the racetrack.


Five Restaurant

25th January 2011 – Portimao (Praia de Rocha) to Silves

25 01 2011

Better weather today despite it raining in the early part of the morning so we decided that we would go out for lunch, where, we hadn’t decided but we did know that we didn’t want to eat at Praia de Rocha as we felt that all we would be getting would be burger and chips and we were not in the mood for that. We decided to head off and look at Ferragudo, where we had been given GPS co-ordinates of a place we could stop, but not before we took Jack for a good run on the beach. It had stopped raining by the time we got out and the beach was pretty much deserted, the skies were dark though which made for some nice photographs of the beach and marina.

Praia de Rocha Marina

25-01-2011 Praia de Rocha2

We also walked up through the old fort and into town to post a birthday present back to the UK, I took this shot of an old light, the colour of the wall appealed to me.

25-01-2011 Praia de Rocha3

At Ferragudo we found the place where motorhome were parked but, more importantly we were looking for somewhere nice to eat, though there were restaurants there we decided not to stay and instead to head back to Silves and try a restaurant that had been advertising the special set menu for €6.50 per person. We always seem to end up back at Silves for some reason. We settled Jack and walked into town to the restaurant and whilst I had fish, Lorna tried the Portuguese meat dish which was served with black beans and vegetables. We have seen this dish served before and to me it always looked like just a pile of fatty meat so I have never tried it, fair play to Lorna though as she picked her way through it and vowed to try it at another restaurant we go to quite regularly, not for me though i’m afraid.

Back at the motorhome the usual happened and I spent the rest of the afternoon moving between motorhomes and chatting with folk that we have got to know there. The weather stayed nice today so hopefully when we get to the race track tomorrow it will improve further and we can have a decent couple of days.

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