12th February – Monchique

12 02 2012

When we decided to finally leave Sagres we first visited the market that was held just up the road but this offered nothing much in the way of anything different to any of the other markets we have visited in Portugal before, in fact the market was very small and didn’t really appear to be attracting many people unfortunately. We said goodbye to the people that were on the site by the sea and headed on our way, first stop being the beach at Ingrena which we had visited before but never stayed, no change this time either as we decided to head off and have a look at the aire at Lagos. There was no real reason why we decided not to stay at Ingrena and I’m fairly sure we will be back when we are around that area in the future. We headed toward Lagos and found the aire which was well signposted and located right beside the football stadium, not too far from the town but we decided to head on back to Silves (that place is like a big motorhome magnet for us it seems) vowing to return to Lagos and have a look around at some point.

The weekend of the Country and Werstern event at the Ponte Romana arrived and Marion and Dave had done a good job of getting the numbers up so nine of us ended up trooping over to the hotel for the afternoon of music and drinks.As always we had a wonderful time, the music isn’t my normal cup of tea but it’s always a great atmosphere there and it has been reported that I was up and dancing quite a bit, wonder why. There was a quick visit to the O’Cais bar by Lorna and I after the afternoon finished and that is about as much as I can remember, the people we went with were clearly a terrible influence on us.

Dave and I having a dance, country stylee. Photo by Bill

Settling back down at Silves it suddenly became very important to get our heating fixed as night time temperatures were beginning to drop to under freezing point. We suddenly were experiencing a very cold snap in the area, some parts of the world were really struggling according to the news and we were having to wrap up very cosily to ensure that we were warm enough in the night. We had our water heater on just to keep some warmth in the van and to make sure that the water wasn’t dumped overnight. Even the days were colder that we had been used to, even with the sun out the cold wind made it not particularly pleasant outside. I managed to get in touch with a company called CamperServ and after explaining the problem we were having we were booked in for the day after (Tuesday 7th) to get our problem sorted. The owner was excellent, friendly and welcoming and obviously very knowledgable as our problem was soon isolated to a fauly thermostat which was registering a temperature of 60° when it was only just over 20°, no wonder the heating wasn’t coming on. The problem was fixed very quickly by installing a new thermostat and with a parts charge of €10 and €10 for labour we were both well chuffed. CamperServ highly recommended!

At the Country and Western afternoon we had met Bill and Sue who had told us about a chicken restaurant in Monchique so on Friday 10th we headed up to the campsite just south of Caldas de Monchique and, after dropping off one motorhome, headed up to the restaurant in the other. It was a good recommendation too, great chips! After our lunch we headed up to Foia with Bill and Sue and had a wander around the highest point in the Algarve, not for too long though as again, the wind was very cold.

We have been on the site at Caldas for a couple of nights now and it seems that heating the motorhome is something that is going to be a bit of a recurring issue. Our gas heating still works ok but for some reason our small convector heater has now decided to stop working completely, Great! plugged into the electric and having to use gas driven blown air heating to keep us warm at night. Plans for the next while are to get stocked up with lovely Monchique water and then to see where we land before heading back inland where I might manage to get our convector heater fixed, if not I’ll be throwing in the first skip I see.

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30th January – Sagres

1 02 2012

Although we had planned to visit the beaches at Manta Rota, Altura and a few other spots when we left the campsite at Tavira we found ourselves bypassing these places and heading straight back to Silves. I think that maybe we had had our ‘quiet’ time and subconsciously decided that we wanted to get back with the crowd at our favourite place. It was much busier when we arrived compared to when we left so we were lucky to get a parking spot fairly close to our friends, luckily someone moved the next day so we managed to move into the vacant space and be right back on ‘Park Avenue’ the affectionate name given a particular section of the car park. After virtually a full week of late morning rises, pleasant walks, afternoons spent playing boules and general relaxation we arranged to go up to the local barragem for a weekend with Marion and Dave, just a change of scene more than anything.

We have a small problem with the motorhome at the moment in that the heating isn’t working. Hot water is fine so the boiler itself isn’t at fault, more likely the fan that circulates the hot air isn’t functioning correctly, either that or the thermostat has given up. In an attempt to get it looked at I contacted a mobile motorhome servicing company that had been recommended but they failed to get back in touch after two phone calls to them so I have, for the moment, decided to leave it be. The daytime temperatures are currently anything from 22° to 28° so there is no worry there but the nighttime temperatures are dropping close to freezing so, for the moment, extra blankets required until the problem is sorted.

My apologies for the constant change of tense.

We had our weekend up at the barragem with Marion and Dave which was most pleasant, hot sun, long daytime walks and lots of barbecued food followed by evening campfires to keep us warm. That was until our second night there when another person in a motorhome came over just as we turned the barbecue into a campfire and told us that open air fires were now banned in Portugal because of the dry conditions and increased fire risk. That put a bit of a dampener on our evening but we still managed to stay up relatively late and have a good night up there, and a very nice weekend. Back at Silves the following afternoon after more walking in the beautiful countryside we soon settled back into the swing of things with no particular plans to move on anytime soon.

Lorna had been talking about doing some Yoga and meditation for a while and we had both searched the internet for retreats in the Algarve without any success. By chance, Lorna got chatting to a German lady we had seen a few times and she gave her the number of a girl that ran retreats just south of Aljezur in a small place close to Alfambras. After a few phone calls and emails a course and price were agreed and Lorna was all booked in and ready for a three day retreat where she would be shown both Yoga and meditation and although the landlord of the property where it was held didn’t like to accommodate motorhomes, a special request was made and all was well. On Wednesday 25th January we made our way up to the retreat and, after a bit of a bumpy ride up a dirt track we arrived in a heavenly little place right in the middle of nowhere, the only noise being the ‘whooshing’ of the blades of the wind turbines that were about 2km walk from the house. The lack of light pollution at night here really allowed the sky to light up with stars, so many, quite a sight.

Kaya, the girl that runs the courses made us both very welcome and, in the hours that she spent with Lorna over the next three days, helped her enormously. I’m not a big one for ‘all that sort of thing’ but it’s certainly true that Lorna got a great deal out of it, clearly much more relaxed in general. In my own way I got a lot out of it too, in more ways than one. Firstly the location was stunning, we walked one afternoon for nigh on two hours and didn’t see a single soul, just so very peaceful and tranquil and a wonderful place to be, on one of my walks I saw a wild boar, Jack saw it too and was most confused. Secondly, Lorna had mentioned to Kaya that I liked photography so I was soon enlisted to take some photographs for her website. Kaya said that she wanted something that showed the tranquil location but were also dynamic images so I set about taking a few photos for her.

Kaya

Meditation

Pleased with the initial results from photos at the retreat, we arranged to meet up at the local beach at Vale Figueira and take some more shots the following day so, there I was, jeans rolled up over my knees, in the sea taking more photos of Kaya as she bent her way into various positions on a rock looking out to sea, a stunning location.

Yoga

Yoga

We parted ways with Kaya and, as we had stocked up on food and water before we arrived, we went down to the beach at Bordeira for the next two nights. The only thing dictating our time on the beach was the limitations of two toilet cassettes, one already full, so we thought we may as well spend as much time as we could there before heading to Sagres to empty out when we had to. This part of the west coast of Portugal is simply stunning, huge cliffs on which fishermen find the most precarious places to stand, beautiful wide beaches and a sea that is so blue it defies logic. On one of our long walks we happened upon a small restaurant that was absolutely jam packed so we decided that we should have a Sunday afternoon treat and eat out there. Jack walked and back in the motorhome, we had a lovely few hours sat outside the restaurant, in the sun. Lorna had a craving for fish but as soon as she saw lamb on the menu she opted for that and was served up a huge plate of roast lamb with really nice roast spuds. I had fish which was also very nice, although not up to the standard of the Ponte Romana in Silves I have to say.

So, that’s pretty much up to date. We are currently sat on a parking area in Sagres, looking right out to sea as the sun is slowly setting casting a lovely light on the cliffs. We have some more shopping in so I shall be alright for crisps for the next day or two at least and then we plan to head back to Silves for the weekend where the annual visit to the country and western afternoon is on the cards. On our way back for that we shall hopefully be going to Lagos for a couple of nights at the new aire there which will give us the opportunity to have a look around the town which we have not seen before. This country and western afternoon has come around much quicker than we thought and it bought home just how soon it will be that we will have to start planning our journey back to the UK to start work again on March 26th.

For the moment though, this is the view that we are waking up to each morning.

Sagres

Time flies when you are having fun!








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