28th February 2011 – Odeceixe to Vila Nova de Milfontes.

28 02 2011

After a decent nights sleep we got up and walked Jack on the beach for the last time at Odeceixe and then set off on the main toad toward Odemira at about 11.30am in search of a supermarket to get our much needed provisions.

Wild Camping - Odeceixe

Luckily we didn’t have to travel that far as the next town along, Sao Teotonio, had a reasonably sized Intermarche so we stopped and spent just over €65 getting stocked up. From here we were wanting to have a look at some of the beaches that ran along the coast and our first stop was Almograve (N37°38.903 W008°48.291) which was a parking spot on top of cliffs overlooking the sea and beaches, the views were stunning, waves rolling in, hitting rocks before finally breaking onto a spotless beach, just beautiful. We had our lunch here but as it was both very windy and a little isolated we decided to move on and have a look at the next possible stop over at Vila Nova de Milfontes. The drive there was not very long and we were soon driving down the main road through the town which seemed to be quite lively, lots of shops and bars about. We had to drive right the way out of the other side of the town to get to the beaches and when we did we were presented with a stunning view. The road led out to a small ‘peninsula’ which had, on one side the calm waters of an estuary, whilst in front and to the other side, the crashing waves of the sea coming into the land. We found a parking space on the side of the road (N37°43.385 W008°47.175)and went for a walk to investigate a little further.

This place is a little slice of heaven, calm, quiet, relaxing, beautiful and picturesque. I took many photos as the sun went down and cast it’s pink light onto the buildings overlooking the estuary.

Vila Nova de Milfontes at Sunset

Our dinner was another fully cooked affair. We have been eating lots of vegetables of late as Lorna has gone through a phase of just sticking everything in the skillet pan and producing some great meals. Beef with vegetables for the last two nights and tonight, half a chicken breast each, load of veg and the statutory onion gravy.





25th – 27th February 2011 – Monchique to Odeceixe

27 02 2011

The weather over the last couple of days has been amazing. We saw temperatures of over 33° with no or little wind which, for me, was just a little too warm to be out and about so much of my time has been spent just pottering around both inside and out, taking Jack for a walk late afternoon and catching up on a few films. We had a walk virtually all the way to the centre of Caldas de Monchique, from the campsite, over the hills and down to the main road and then toward the water bottling ‘factory’ and then stopping off on the way back to take in a coffee and a beer at a small restaurant, that was about all the exercise we have had. We also managed to flush out our waste water tank as we were getting spurious readings from our levels meter, that worked and all seems to be fine.

On Saturday evening we decided that we would head off first thing in the morning toward the beaches at Odeceixe, somewhere we had never been before but had heard good things about, plus it fitted into our loose plan of heading up the west coast for a little while. We left Monchique just before noon on Sunday and headed up toward the town before heading off left toward Aljezur. This route took us up over the hills of the Monchique area, through some lovely forests which occasionally afforded us a gorgeous view out toward the sea. A very nice drive indeed, until of course you leave the municipality of Monchique and enter into that of Aljezur, then the roads change and on our way down from the hills we bumped and rocked on the very poor surfaces. Out of Aljezur toward Odeceixe was new ground for us both. Many of the places we have been on this trip out have been revisits but for once we were on roads that we had not been on before and heading to places we have never visited. Exciting times.

We had GPS co-ordinates for one parking area at Odeceixe but when we got there there was only one other motorhome there and they looked quite settled in so we decided not to park close by. We did see numerous motorhomes on the other side of an estuary so decided to head there, this was after a short drive to another potential spot that turned out to be a little too isolated. Pulling into our chosen spot we knew we had made the right choice as we were looking directly out onto the beach and sea and across to a small town but were still ‘away from it all’.

Jack

We went for a good walk with Jack along the beach and then up a path onto the cliffs before returning back to the motorhome to cook our dinner and then we spent a nice evening watching the sun set and planning our next move. We really need to find a supermarket as we are out of numerous essentials, butter, bread, olive oil, meat, vegetables, fruits, soft drinks, toilet rolls and of course wine!

Odeceixe Beach Walkers





24th February 2011 – Monchique

25 02 2011

It’s always the same, as soon as I finish writing a blog post and publish it something else happens that is ‘blog worthy’ and I have to wait to include it in the next days ramblings.

Preparing for our meal last night I needed to bring in our table from outside as we decided that we would eat in. The table was cleared off and the legs folded back in and was then carried into the motorhome, where I proceeded to unfold the legs. Unfortunately, my index finger was on the part of the leg that snaps into place when the leg is extended and so became trapped. It hurt. I freed my finger and went into the bathroom to see blood pouring from the wound, I initially thought that I might have lost the very end of my finger but luckily, when the blood cleared a little I could see that it was just the top part of the nail that had been severed and forcibly removed. Lorna and I managed to stem the blood flow a little before dressing it with a bandage and plaster. Throb, throb, throb for the rest of the night. Before I went to bed I took some co-codomol which helped with the pain and put me to sleep very quickly.

Taken 2 days after the initial accident.

I stopped in bed for a long time today, mainly due to another couple of co-codomol at 6.45am, but also due to the fact that I was feeling sorry for myself. It was a searingly hot day, reaching 32.5° at one point so I elected to spend most of my day in the motorhome messing on the internet, using Skype to speak to family, processing another of my photos from the other night and generally taking it easy. I did have a couple of walks in the sun but, for both of us it was a little too warm.

The extra photo I processed from the other day is possibly my favorite from the trip so far.

Monchique

I just love the light.

The afternoon and evening was spent hanging around and having some lovey chicken for our dinner. With it we had the remains of our 5ltr box of red wine and then watched ‘Acidhouse’ which is possibly the wierdest film I have seen for a long time, good but wierd!





23rd February – Monchique

23 02 2011

Well, how nice is this place?! a far cry from the hectic lifestyle of the car park in Silves. Very relaxed indeed.

We are having a most peaceful time, the weather is scorching hot and there are a number of nice walks around the area which we intend to investigate further over the next few days. Today has been mainly spent walking with Jack through the woods, investigating various paths and then, when it got too warm,  we returned to the motorhome for a spot of lunch, consisting of chilli from last night, salad, a cheese course (we picked up some more lovely cheese from the market in Silves on Sunday before we came here) and of course a few glasses of red wine. We bought a 5ltr box with us and seem to be running out too quickly.

Being in this relaxed and uninterrupted atmosphere I have had some time to actually go out and take some photos as well as having the time to edit them properly. Two from today at completely different times. The first was taken on the walk earlier today when I saw this old tree surrounded by pretty yellow flowers, there was a nice contrast between the old and the new I thought but I don’t particularly think it comes through in the photo, maybe it’s a little oversaturated.

Old Tree

The second from today was taken just as the sun was starting to set. On another walk earlier I had seen this outcrop of trees and could see that as the sun set it would light up this particular part of the landscape. I wandered off just as the sun starting to lower in the sky and took numerous shots of this one part of the view. Whilst up on my viewpoint I managed to get bitten more than several times so I think I shall be itching for a while now but worth it I think, nice sky, a bit of recession in the landscape and a nice bit of light in the foreground.

Monchique

For today that’s about it. Will probably have some dinner now and then watch a film before an early night I think.





19th -22nd February 2011 – Silves and eventually Monchique

22 02 2011

I said at the tail end of the last blog post that things here can change very quickly and there could not be a better example than what happened after I finished uploading that post. In it I said:

This went on for a good while and eventually as the group dispersed I wandered over to Martins van and ran through a few Photoshop techniques that I tend to use on my photos, then it was a quiet night in with Lorna and Jack.

Just after that was published i went back over to Martins motorhome and we both decided that it would be a nice idea to go to the O Cais bar to watch a band play. Whilst I suggested it to Lorna, Martin invited Johan, a Dutch man who I had spoken to a few times over the past week or so. Lorna didn’t want to go particularly so, at 9.15pm all four of us 🙂 wandered over to the bar and, whilst sat upstairs managed to have a few drinks and a great old chat. When we left we headed to the bar at the Bombeiros (Fire Station) and carried on there for a while before finally getting back to the motorhome close to midnight.

Saturday was planned as our last day at Silves, we had told everyone that we were due to leave on Sunday and that we were off to O Cais again, this time for the karaoke. A nice day was had where we went on a long walk with Dave and Marion and relaxed and chatted with people in the afternoon. Later we headed over to the bar and positioned ourselves upstairs, overlooking the stage. Aidee was already there and was soon up singing his songs, particularly good he was too. As we were a little early, the food staff had not arrived as yet so we ordered a bottle of wine anyway and enjoyed the music. At around 7pm the cook arrived and we ordered our food and were promptly served, then the drinking began, and the singing, and the line dancing from Dave and Marion. We had a particularly memorable evening, Lorna sang duets with Aidee and two or three other people as well as getting onto the stage herself. Even I managed to belt out ‘I’m A Believer’ (the Robert Wyatt version of course) toward the end of the evening. It took us a good while to walk back as certain members of the group were suffering from balance problems, there are photos but they are not going to be shared here i’m afraid.

Sunday was a write off really. Both us and Marion and Dave had planned to move on but before midday we had both decided that that simply wasn’t going to happen. Marion spent the entire day in bed, Dave was rough, as was Lorna. I seemed to be ok for some reason. I do believe that managing not to smoke during the night helped with how I felt the next day, no particular hangover and certainly no rough throat or coughing, excellent. By evening time though I was starting to flag a little and by 9pm I was in bed. During various chats during the day we had decided that we would go to the market on Monday and then move on……….a definite plan this time, no going out, no deviation, early night, up early, market and go. Simple. So, Monday arrived and we all managed to stick to the plan of getting up early, going to the street market and then heading off, well, nearly. All was going to plan for Lorna and I until I tried to start the motorhome, the battery had gone flat and it wouldn’t start at all. Very strange as we had only been parked for about a week and a new starter battery shouldn’t lose its charge like that. I can only assume that something, somewhere, is putting a drain on the battery whilst the engine isn’t running. Something I need to get looked at, but it can wait until we are back in the UK now. Luckily all of our friends rallied round and I soon had two batteries with jump leads at hand. It wouldn’t start with these so Aidee got his generator out and we ran that for half an hour charging the battery. This worked and we were soon off and on our way to the campsite at Monchique (Vale Da Carrasqueira). With the battery problem any thoughts of going to a beach for a few days and wild camping were out of the window as it would be likely that we wouldn’t be able to start again and that would be far from ideal, at least on the site we could plug-in and at least float charge the battery for a few days. We had to stop and stock up with food before we arrived as the park is quite isolated so I had to sit in the motorhome with the engine running whilst Lorna shopped.

Later in the afternoon we arrived at the park and, having parked up and sorted ourselves out we took Jack for a walk and on returning we were invited to play Boules with some other people on the site. There is only room for about 14 motorhomes on the site so it’s a small, friendly place were everyone seems to get involved. We suffered defeat to the French couple we played but 13-5 isn’t too shabby considering Lorna hasn’t played before. In the evening we ate early and then watched ‘It Could Happen To You’ before having a reasonably early night. Lorna was up early the next day, sat outside and taking advantage of the fine weather. When I eventually got up we moved the motorhome on to proper pitch (there wasn’t room when we arrived yesterday) and then went for a walk through the lovely countryside with Jack who seemed pleased to be able to run about freely again.

Monchique

As it seems to be very relaxed and quiet here, and the fact that we are quite stocked up with food etc I think that we may well be stopping here longer than the planned three nights. The days are counting down to when we need to be back in the UK so a week here relaxing before the start of the long drive back seems like a good idea at the moment.





18th February 2011 – Silves

18 02 2011

There are a few things, that in my rush to get yesterdays blog post done, I forgot to mention.

Firstly that we have a problem with our water supply, in that we have a bit of a leak. Under the inspection hatch for the fresh water tank there is a fitting to which a pipe connects. This fitting has broken. I can only assume that, as all of the water supplies are working, this is for the overflow. This theory is backed up by the fact that when we filled the tank up earlier yesterday, water was flooding out of this fitting. When I saw this happening I quickly opened a few taps to lower the water levels in the tank and the gushing stopped. Back in Silves I mentioned this to Dave (henceforth to be known as ‘Country Dave’) and he soon arrived with a tube of silicon from his ‘magic box’ and we sealed the hole so now we don’t have the problem. It will need to be sorted when we get back to the UK but for the time being it’s fixed.

My thanks also need to go out to Viv, Martin and Steve for loans of their hard drives, the joys of file sharing.

We woke up very late today and didn’t really surface until nearly mid-day to be faced with a beautiful sunny affair, nothing like the mornings of the last few days where we have been woken up by rain. After a good clean up we took Jack for a good long walk with Marion and ‘Country Dave’ all along the far side of the river. On the way back we stopped for a beer at a small cafe and then as we were making our way back to the motorhome we decided that today would be a good day for us to try a chicken restaurant recommended by Viv (the legend). Marion and Country Dave had already eaten so Lorna and I dropped off Jack and went for our late lunch of chicken piri-piri and chips. Viv’s recommendation was sound as the chicken was beautifully cooked and the piri-piri sauce was ridiculously hot and spicy which is how I remember it being from previous visits to the Algarve. You clearly need to know the places to go to get the hot stuff and the waiter told us that we would be able to purchase our own jar of the same sauce on Saturday from the street market, excellent.

Back at the motorhome we stood outside chatting to the usual folk and ended up drinking a bit of Portuguese firewater that Paul had. This went on for a good while and eventually as the group dispersed I wandered over to Martins van and ran through a few Photoshop techniques that I tend to use on my photos, then it was a quiet night in with Lorna and Jack.

Tomorrow is possibly our last day in Silves (though these things can change very easily) and to say our goodbyes to Marion, Country Dave, Viv (legend), Paul and Aidee we are planning a night out at the O Cais bar………they have a karaoke night on.





14th – 17th February 2011 – Silves

17 02 2011

Valentines Day 2011, the day that I decided that I needed to give up smoking and try to live my life without the dreaded tobacco. I was of course helped in this decision by smoking too much the night before, running out of tobacco, papers and filters and confined to the motorhome because of the poor weather we were experiencing, still, any reason or combination of reasons is good enough I suppose.

On the first three days of this week we have been woken up early by the sound of rain hitting the roof of the motorhome, sometimes accompanied by thunder and lightning. The weather during the day has not improved much either with rain belting down and sometimes even turning into hail. It’s not been particularly cold but it has been very wet indeed. Luckily, we have a few people about us that we can chat to, invite over, forget to mention in my blog (sorry Viv, the glorious winner of the Boules competition) and generally keep us both company during the miserable weather. We have been entertaining Dave and Marion, Aidee and last night, Martin. Martin is a keen photographer (www.martintaylorphotography.com/) so we had plenty to talk about and even arranged a trip to the coast for earlier today when the West was expected to be hit by some huge waves, 30′ waves according to a website. So, at 7.30am my alarm went off and by 8.15am we were on our way to Sagres to photograph what was sure to be a fantastic sight. The weather was still thinking about raining but we were afforded brief periods of sunlight which gave us hope of a few decent shots. Unfortunately however, we didn’t account for the wind that was blowing in and flattening all of the waves down so we ended up seeing some nice waves but not the huge ones we had been expecting. I returned with no photographs of merit and I am unsure if Martin managed to get any either, not a very successful trip unfortunately but a nice break from the cold and wet car park in Silves.

The weather improved mid-afternoon so things are starting to look brighter for the weekend where we have a market to look forward to and possibly our last night in the O Cais music bar with Dave and Marion on Saturday night………..Karaoke night no less so that should be some fun though I am sure I will find it very difficult as it will be my 6th day without cigarettes and people are allowed to smoke in the bar……..time to get some Zyban I think!








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