Saturday 9th November –
It is a bit confusing, I was led to believe that when you are retired that there are no such things as weekends because you lose track of days as you are no longer working a Monday to Friday existence. Well it would appear that this is not the case when you are fulltiming and living on ‘Aires’. The routine is that you do not generally move over a weekend, so it appears that everyone gets to where they want to be on the Friday And then stays put until Monday. This is not a ‘British’ ritual but a pattern of activity followed by all Nationalities. Strange I know, but that it would appear is the routine !! Next it will be having an International Sunday Morning church service !! Sshh ! don’t say that too loud Eric, you just never know, someone might think that is a good idea. The only time I can get Shazza into church is during Holy Communion and only then because I tell her they dish out free ‘Vino’.
So, as you may gather from that, we are still on the ‘Aire’ at Vila Real. Not that we had intended to move on anywhere as there are still a few things we want to do but perhaps one weekend I will be a rebel and move just because I can !!
And so it was that we awoke to yet another sunny morning, glorious blue skies with barely a cloud in sight. But it was not quite paradise this morning as the sunshine was accompanied with a gale force wind which rather took the edge off it a bit !! It was not cold as I stood outside the van with my morning cuppa and lung starter, in fact in the sunshine it was rather nice, however, I didn’t rate very highly the chances of the chappie who went running after his hat as it made it’s way across the Atlantic !! Today in the town square there was a ‘flea market’ so we thought that we would go and take a look at what tat cherished items the Portuguese were attempting to palm off on other’s. It would appear that the difference between a ‘flea market’ and a ‘car boot’ sale is that there isn’t one single car boot in sight which, when I saw some of the rather large items on sale, made me ask the question, Where did they park the removals trucks they must have brought this stuff in ? After doing fifteen consecutive weeks of Sunday morning car boot sales ourselves, oh yes we still have cold sweats even now when we think about those days, but it would be nice to be able to just saunter, stop and pick up an item and look interested, then when the ‘seller’ came to speak, thinking they had a sale, we would put it down and walk away !! No, we wouldn’t really do that……? Shazza did suggest asking how much their tat cherished item cost and then offer them just fifty cents but I told her that she may just end up with lots of unwanted ‘cherished items’, and if she thinks I am going to get up at 6am on a Sunday morning………….. !!!!
Remember Brian & Carole, our travelling companions we talked about in previous posts, well they were here when we arrived but left to go and join some friends. However, they returned again yesterday with said friends, Ray & Shiela. They told us about a 60’s/70’s night being held at a local Restaraunt in town and invited us along. We got a four course meal, all the wine we could drink and coffee plus live entertainment for €17.50 each. What a good night ! The live singer was very good and sung songs we all knew, it was a great evening, fantastic company, good food and drink and we talked and danced the night away.
Brian, Carole, Ray & Shiela left this morning to go to a favourite parking area not too far away that they enjoy but as we are all basically following a similar route I am sure that we will be seeing them again. We had not done any laundry for some time now and although we had plenty of clothes, bedding and towels, the laundry bin was full so we decided to get on our bicycles and check out a campsite just 3 miles down the road. It was another beautifully sunny day but that strong wind was still giving it full whack !! No problems going but the wind would be against us coming back, fortunately we had the battery power to make it a bit easier. We packed some sandwiches, made a small flask of coffee and set off, it was a pleasant cycle along the promenade, past the marina and for the first part of the ride we looked across the river to Spain. Then we headed West with Spain now behind us and replaced with the Atlantic Ocean to our Left. The road had a cycle path so we felt quite safe, not that there was much traffic on the road. We passed the campsite on our right-hand side, it was a municipal site set behind a chain link fence in a pine forest. We rode up to the reception and I informed them that we had a ‘Grande Camper Van ‘ and would they be able to accommodate us ? I was told that we could just pick a place to park !! I asked if we could have a look around and they informed the security guard on the barrier to permit entry. It did not take us too long to make the decision that we would ‘not’ be using this campsite, it was not the €17.50 a night fee, it was not that the pitches were very uneven and showed evidence of flooding in wet weather, all pitches had man made drain away trenches, man made by the ‘occupants of the pitches’ neither was it that all the Electric Hook-Up Cables were strewn high up in tree branches. This campsite resembled one of those places you see on the International News broadcasts, what do they call them now……. ‘refugee camps’ !! I would have felt more uneasy about leaving ‘Big Momma’ and all our worldly possessions inside this chain linked, security guarded ‘refugee camp’ than I did leaving ‘Big Momma’ on any of the unsecured Motorhome ‘Aires’ that we have used so far on this trip. We had been told by another fellow Motorhomers at one of our previous ‘ports of call’ that there was a Motorhome parking area not far from the site right next to the beach so we went off in search of it. We cycled through the town which, for a Sunday, was actually fairly busy, not Summer crowds, but there were plenty of people milling around, walking along the wooden boarded seafront, cycling or just relaxing outside one of the many pavement cafés. This stretch of beach extended for some distance and was golden soft sand but the town itself looked a bit tired, although we had to keep reminding ourselves that irrespective of the sunshine this was still Winter. We could not find the Motorhome parking so we decided to turn back and head for a picnic area we had seen opposite the ‘refugee camp’ where we could eat our sandwich before heading back. We turned into the picnic area, which also led to the beach, and decided to take a look and perhaps eat our sandwich whilst we looked out on the golden sands and the blue Atlantic Ocean. There they were, about twenty of them, no not fishing boats, not seagulls but Motorhomes !! We had found the parking area quite by accident and what’s more, as we rode through we saw ‘Nathan’, the chap who lived in France and who had been parked next to us at ‘Castro Marim’. We stopped and chatted and he told us about a Launderette in the town so we decided that after our sandwich we would go back in and try to find it. Perhaps then we could park up here for a couple of days whilst we got the laundry done before moving further along the Algarve coastline.
Well we searched for the illusive launderette, without success, so decided to give it up as a bad job and more importantly my bum was beginning to get a bit saddle sore !! We headed back to Vila Real and the wind was most definitely going to make it a bit longer to cycle back, but it was time to call upon the assistance of the battery power to make it an effortless trip. Shazza led and she sped away, I would have caught her in no time if I hadn’t encountered a problem with my bicycle !! The battery was working as all the lights on the handlebar control box lit up, but there was no response when I pressed the switches, damn ! Why is it always my stuff that goes on the blink !! I stopped, fiddled with the wires just in case it was simply a loose connection but as the saying goes ‘The lights were on but no-one was at home’ !!. Shazza, not hearing me breathing down her kneck, eventually looked over her shoulder and seeing me as a dot on the horizon decided to turn around and come to see what the problem was. Well, it was a long hard cycle back for me and to say that I was ‘knackered’ would be a massive understatement but hey, it was even more exercise !!!
So what to do about the laundry ? The Aire we were on was pretty good so the decision was to remain where we were for another day and do hand washing, we had access to water, as much as we wanted, we had plenty of hot water, we had a laundry rack attached to the rear cycle carrier, another very practical farewell gift from Shazza’s former school colleagues and we had lots of wind, of the ‘natural’ variety, so drying would not be an issue. So decision made, I moved ‘Big Momma’ across to the Motorhome Service Point, emptied the ‘grey’ waste and re-filled the fresh water. Once we had re-positioned ‘Big Momma’ on our chosen patch of ground Shazza commenced the task of hand washing. That is the thing about this lifestyle, you have to make the most of opportunities as they come along for things like laundry, emptying and re-filling essential on-board facilities, re-fuelling, re-filling LPG (which we still havn’t done yet) and shopping. Sometimes, like now, you have to think laterally and create opportunities. But we were in no hurry to be anywhere else in particular, wherever we may have ended up tomorrow will still be there the next day, or the next………