Its been a while since my last blog post and, in reality, there is not much to tell, just thought I’d better get up to date whilst I have the chance to.
Our time since the last post pre-Christmas has mainly been spent on campsites due to the fact that we have had visitors over the Christmas and New Year period, firstly my mother arrived on the 22nd of December and was whisked straight to Silves from the airport and taken to the Ponte Romana for lunch. I am beginning to believe that this is probably the best, most authentic, Portuguese restaurant in Silves, the food is excellent, prices very reasonable and the atmosphere is very local with many Portuguese eating their lunch there. The fish we had was excellent. We relaxed around Silves for the next few days undecided whether to go to the beach at Alvor for Christmas or not, in the end on Christmas Eve we went shopping and after some discussion we decided to just stop at Silves and have Christmas there, it made sense as we know a few people there and we were fairly settled there. Christmas Day was one of much drinking, socialising and outside cooking, me being responsible for the stuffed turkey escalopes wrapped in parma ham, Lorna and mother being responsible for the veg and starters. Of course I got distracted throughout the cooking process so Lorna ended up looking after my part of the cooking as well, still it turned out very nice from what I can remember……..a Christmas present of a bottle of Gran Marnier has dulled the memories somewhat.
On Boxing Day we headed off to the beach at Alvor for a couple of nights where we walked on the beach and around the town and on mothers penultimate day with us we had a very good lunch at a small harbour side restaurant that we had spied on our last visit there a few weeks back. As mother had a relatively early flight on the day of her return to the UK we decided that we should be stopping close to the airport the night before so we headed to the campsite at Olhao which we have not used before. It’s a huge affair, and after a fairly lengthy check in process where they even asked for the dogs passport we were given a map of the site and told to simply find a place to site ourselves. I wasn’t keen on the place at all, far too cramped for my liking with just eight paces between the centre of each marked pitch (some say the site where we work in Stratford is fairly tight but we generally work on 12-14 paces between the centre of each pitch, bit of a difference). It wasn’t overly expensive though with our stay there costing just under €12 for the night. Next day we were up and about and at the airport for 9am saying our goodbyes to mother and then moving back to the site at Tavira where we planned to have a good clean out and relax in the good weather before a couple of workmates joined us on New Years Day.
On a New Years Eve walk into town we realised that there was something going on in the town on the night so after a quiet day we headed into the town at about 10.45pm to find a few people about but nothing much else happening apart from some musicians tuning up going on on the temporary stage that had been erected in the main square. At about 11.30pm things started happening and the band started playing music (old British and American classics) and suddenly the place started to come to life a bit. We ended up sitting outside a small French Cafe just off the river and, having ordered a nice bottle of 2005 Bergerac we toasted in the New Year accompanied by possibly the best firework display I have ever seen. Of course, the festivities went on until the very early hours but as we had left Jack by himself we opted to head back to the motorhome. Nice way to spend the New Year though.
Our friends form work were arriving on New Years Day and they were stopping at a hotel in Cabanas, just down the road from Tavira so we had already had a look at where we might be able to stay to be close to them. There were a few options including staying on a parking area right next to the hotel but we decided in the end to stop on the campsite at Cabanas which was just a 15 minute walk to the town and the hotel. Ideal. We picked up a drunk pair of travellers at around 3pm on New Years Day and dropped them off at the hotel to settle in and recover slightly whilst we went and booked in at the site for a few days. It was quite an expensive site for us coming in at just under €15 a night excluding electric hook up which they charged an extra €3 a night for, we decided that we would be fine running with our solar panel and battery. An afternoon BBQ was the order of the day for our next day, John and Byron came up to the site and we had a good afternoon and early evening having a few drinks, eating chicken and sausages and planning out the following week. Both John and Byron wanted to make the most of their week and had plans of their own so we arranged a day out to El Rocio in Spain as it is a place that I recommend anyone sees if they are in the area, we were just under an hour and a half away so, with a hire car it seemed like a good idea. We had a good afternoon there, wandering around the town which hasn’t changed at all since last time I was there, eating lunch in a small cafe where we had no idea what we were ordering (much like my experience in Caceres earlier on in the trip but this time there was no English translation). I ended up with some kind of fish ‘won ton’ whilst John had fried eggs with a cold bean salad and Byron won the day with a great lump of meat, chips and gravy (though the description on the menu did seem to be mentioning ‘toro’ so it may well have been bulls testicles for all we know. Nice anyway).
El Rocio done we headed back into Portugal where we took in some more sights before heading back and sharing an evening drink in the Hotel. After a few days we needed to move off the Cabanas campsite as it was a bit expensive for us and the old Police site in Tavira is generally a much nicer site, and cheaper, so we headed off whilst John and Byron entertained themselves for a couple of days. They did come to us on their last night for a farewell barbecue and some games of ‘extreme boules’ (which involved very unlevel ground, trees, rainwater ditches and other such sillyness) that went on until we could no longer see in the dark.
After all of our visitors had been dealt with we decided that we would stop on the site at Tavira for a week which is where I am writing this blog update. Plan is to stop here until the weekend then to go and investigate the parking spot at Manta Rota as we have heard that the local council is putting in a proper water and waste point for motorhomes, as well as a barrier so they can levy a charge for people staying there, much like one recently installed at Lagos which is also somewhere we would like to visit. No doubt we will be back at Silves for a while too.