Our Initial Retirement Trip – Part Fifteen

Thursday 21st November – Tavira to Olhaou-Faro-Quarteira (40 miles)

It is not my intention to deliberately or consciously offend, insult or ridicule any of my fellow travellers, of any Nationality ! However, my primary aim in writing this blog is to tell it like it is, good, bad or indifferent.

If there is one thing that we are learning relatively quickly about this ‘nomadic‘ lifestyle and that is to be ‘flexible‘ !  

We had made a sort of plan for the next few days because we knew that we could leave Tavira with all on-board facilities ’empty or full’ as appropriate, which was important as our next two scheduled stopovers would be ‘parking only’ so we would have to be self-sufficient for two or three days. Our next stop would be ‘Olhaou’ for a night, then ‘Faro’ for perhaps a couple of nights, before stopping at a campsite that was offering €5 per night ‘All Inclusive’ so that we could ’empty and re-fill’ again. That was if we could get off the pitch we were currently on !!

We had been fortunate in having our particular terraced parking area on the ‘Campsite’ to ourselves (and yes I have declared this as a campsite and not an Aire ! ) but on our last afternoon a ‘Dutch’ registered van arrived and parked, well just where it liked actually, not on a quite obvious pitch area, but actually in such a way as to block any other vehicle from passing to get to one of the ‘other’ pitches beyond where we were parked ! Fortunately, they had not blocked our exit !! However, later that evening a ‘French’ registered vehicle arrived and parked directly adjacent to us and right on the entry/exit route ! My hope was that as it had arrived so late that perhaps it was just a quick night halt and they would be leaving first thing in the morning.

I was awake before 07:30am, the sun had not got up and by the looks of the ledden sky it wasn’t going to bother. I didn’t need to do a weather check as it was decidedly chilly, this would be jeans, shirt, jumper and perhaps even a fleece day today. We were in no hurry to leave but by 09:00am we had drunk our coffee’s, had our showers and got ‘Big Momma’ prepared for ‘on the road’. I knew that our ‘French’ neighbours were in no particular hurry to depart when I saw ‘Madame French Neighbour’ outside her van smoking a cigarette, in her pyjamas !! It was quite obvious to anyone that we were ready to depart and it was also quite obvious that we could not depart via the correct exit point unless our French neighbours moved their Motorhome. ‘Madame French Neighbour‘ finished her cigarette and went back inside her van, we waited, thinking that ‘Monsieur French Neighbour‘ would move his van to permit our exit. There was no sign of them aiding our departure so we had two options, knock on their door and ask them nicely to move, or to use an alternative, more difficult route of exit. We did not want to go through the ‘none comprende’ shrug of shoulders routine so we walked and assessed the alternate route and decided that with Shazza guiding me through the maze of trees we could probably do it. We pulled away and started the manoeuvres, to my utter amazement, ‘Monsieur and Madame French Neighbour‘ both came outside and stood and watched !! No attempt to stay inside and discreetly watch through the windows, ‘None !’, this was “let’s see and hear how many scratches the tree branches can make along the sides and roof of the English van” !! We actually managed very well, took it really slowly and departed with both ‘Big Momma’ and our ‘Pride’ in tact, with perhaps just one or two additional tree scuff marks than we had started the day with !

According to our ‘travel bible’, Olhaou is the largest working port on the Algarve, our ‘Camperstop’ was right on the harbour and so I was looking forward to this particular stop as it would satisfy my enjoyment of both being by the sea and being able to observe boats of all sizes in operation. The journey was straightforward and uneventful until we came across the Camperstop that is. I had seen all the Motorhomes parked up on my side of the road but had mistakenly turned a little too soon and there was no obvious entry onto the parking area. I pulled up and Shazza went across to speak to one of the many other Motorhomers who were outside their vans looking across at us. She came back and stated that they had shrugged their shoulders in that ‘None Comprende‘ fashion. I could see that although the parking area was well occupied, there were still a couple of decent spaces that ‘Big Momma’ could comfortably fit into. From where I was parked there was no place to turn around so once again, with Shazza guiding me, I reversed back and then re-parked so that I could go and look for the correct entry point myself. Now perhaps I am anticipating just a bit too much common sense from some of my fellow Motorhomers, but if I was already parked up and saw another Motorhome looking for a way in, even if I could not communicate in their language, I would be able to point to where they needed to be, or am I perhaps expecting just a little too much ? As I walked across the parking area I took a look at some of the registration plates to see what Language I may have to attempt to speak in if required, perhaps a smattering of ‘Dutch’ or even ‘German’, yes I could manage that, but no such luck, these were ‘French’ and the only words I could say with any coherence in Francais were, ‘bonjour’, ‘Merci’, ‘Jambon’ or count to twelve and I don’t know why but I just didn’t think that would be sufficient in this situation !! There were not just one or two French registered Motorhomes, every single Motorhome on this parking area was French !! If I could have found a Dutch registered van I may have been okay, the Dutch are ‘generally’ very friendly and very helpful but ‘None !’ They were all French and I found this rather unusual, so far on this journey there has been a mix of Nationalities on all the ‘Aires’, okay so pre-dominantly German or Dutch, but there has always been a mixture of Belgian, English, French, Italian, Swiss etc. I found the entry point, not that obvious, just a broken area of kerb really and then I viewed the ease at which I could take ‘Big Momma’ in, turn her around and park at a reasonable distance behind one of the French vans. As I was doing this I was approached by a couple of the French Motorhomers, who to my complete astonishment pointed across the road to a large, roughly surfaced, parking area where there were two very large Motorhomes already parked and they appeared to indicate with very ‘determined’ finger gestures that I should park over there. I have to be honest, I had not seen the other vans across the road and ‘Snoopy’ had indicated that I was in fact at the correct location for the ‘Aire’. Anyway, there was indeed more space over the other side of the road and it was right next to the harbour where I would have a good view of all the trawlers coming and going as well as the vast array of smaller fishing boats so yes, this was a perfectly viable alternate parking spot. Now at first  I had thought that the ‘French Contingent’ were not very welcoming and that they had not relished the thought of us invading what obviously, well to me at least, had been adopted as a ‘French Only’ parking area. however, I had quite obviously misinterpreted their kindest of intentions as it appeared that actually they were only trying to be helpful ? So, I returned to ‘Big Momma’ and we re-located to the ‘other’ side of the ‘International Divide road with the two other very large vans, both French registered as it happens.

Olhaou the Esplenade and Marina

Olhaou the esplanade and Marina

Beautiful marbled bench !

Beautiful marbled bench !

And another one of those marbled benches

And another one of those marbled benches

We got ourselves settled and Shazza made me my favourite ‘on the road’ late breakfast, ‘Bacon and Egg butties’. Our new neighbours were shuffling between each other’s vans and it was apparent that they were travelling together. They looked across, waved and smiled, ah yes, this was the normal friendly behaviour that we had so far experienced for the majority of our trip, normality restored ! As we were eating our sandwich and drinking our coffee, whilst discussing our plan of action for the remainder of the day, we observed a small ‘Belgian’ registered ‘camper van’ pull into the parking area on the opposite side of the road. Being so small it easily found a parking space amongst the ‘French’ vans, but no sooner had it parked and we saw the occupants from one of the ‘other’ vans get out, walk across to where the small Belgian van was parked and point with very ‘Determined’ finger gestures across the road to where we were parked. The Belgian van was quite obviously happy with its current location and stayed where it was.

 After finishing our late breakfast we decided to go and explore down town ‘Olhaou’ which fortunately was just around the corner and no more than 800 metres walk away. It was cold today, the sun had not managed to break through the thick cloud and I kept my fleece on whilst Shazza elected for a warmer fleece lined rain jacket. Our impressions of Olhaou were good, we walked past the busy port entrance, this led to a long sea front esplanade with a jetty. We walked along the jetty and discovered that this was where the summer tourist boat trips departed. Moored close to the jetty were small fishing boats with one fisherman stood in his boat, still untangling his fresh catch from his nets and already selling it to customers. As he was trying to sort the fish his boat was inundated with squabbling sea gulls all trying to steal the fish even before it had been freed from the nets which were piled at the back of his boat. The fisherman just ignored the noisy hoards, the seagulls that is and not his customers who were actually very well-behaved and didn’t squabble once. We walked further along the esplanade which was adorned with small huts, most selling coffee’s, there were lots of grassed areas, some with children’s play equipment, others with trees and shrubs and then seating areas with benches, some made from marble with tiled pictures on the back. We kept walking along this lovely tree-lined esplanade until we came across a large green building, around the outside were an array of little kiosks, some selling newspapers and magazines, others were small cafés with people sat at the tables and chairs chatting. We went inside the large building and discovered that this was the ‘Mercado’ and it was in full swing with people milling about between the stalls, which were primarily fruit and vegetables. When we exited through the other side of the building we could see another similar building so we went inside and discovered that this was the fish market, even if you had been blind you would have known what this place was. It was not a horrible or over powering smell, just very fishy !! Amongst this vast array of normal looking fish, normal as in it was recognisable as fish, they had fins, tales, scales, pouting lips, big lifeless eyes, you know what I mean, fish looking fish ! But in addition to these there were also large Conga Eels, absolutely massive squid and lots of Octopus.

Once out of the market we continued our walk up the esplanade and past the marina where the sailing yachts and motor yachts, large and small, were moored and canvas-covered for the winter. On the opposite of the road, running the full length of the esplanade were all the restaurants, each still open with staff positioned at doors trying to elicit some lunchtime customers. We could imagine this place in the height of summer, all these restaurants would be full to overflowing but now, well it reminded us of the majority of British seaside resorts at this time of year. Behind this very busy Main Street, busy both with traffic and pedestrians, was the ‘old town’ with the now familiar maze of alleys and side streets. It was much like a spider’s web with a central hub with strands running down and across as it permeated outwards. We came across a very nice looking church, at the back there was a ‘grilled ‘ area and behind the grills were lit candles. The ‘tourist bible’ explained that on dangerously stormy nights when the fishing fleet were at sea, the wives would come and light a candle and pray for the safe return of their kin folk.

The church where the wives of the fishermen go to light their candles and pray for their safe return

The church where the wives of the fishermen go to light their candles and pray for their safe return

Behind the grill in the centre is where the lighted candles can be seen even today !! Perhaps they know something about the weather to come ?

Behind the grill in the centre is where the lighted candles can be seen even today !! Perhaps they know something about the weather to come ?

Our freindly Portuguese marine police officers

Our friendly Portuguese marine police officers

 On our way back to ‘Big Momma’ I saw the Marine Police mooring up their boat in the main harbour, so I went and asked if I could take a photo, they were more than happy to oblige and even made an attempt at smiling ?

Back at ‘Big Momma’ and over a cup of coffee we both agreed that there was actually nothing more to see here so decided that rather than just sit it out for a night we may as well move on to our next destination, ‘Faro’ a mere 6 miles away, a city which would surely have more for us to see and do ? We also noted that the Belgian ‘Camper Van’ was no longer parked across the road, neither was it parked with us, perhaps like the weather they had decided that the atmosphere across the road was a little too chilly !!

‘Snoopy’ was re-programmed to take us to another ‘parking only’ ‘Aire’ which was quite literally on the outskirts of the city. The road surfaces were greatly improved, even signs of them having been recently re-surfaced, perhaps because we are now in the main ‘tourist’ part of the Algarve. There were plenty of fuel stations along the route (N125) with most selling diesel at €1.36 per litre (£1.18) and we came across two in quick succession on the outskirts of Faro that had LPG (GPL) at €0.59.9 per litre (£0.52), we did not need any at the moment but we may top up if we spend a couple of nights here as we will be using our on-board gas for everything so it would be worth topping up at such cheap prices. Although we were following ‘Snoopy’ we also noted that the signs along our route all said ‘Centro’ ! This didn’t concern me too much as the roads were good and we were following a bus ! As we had suspected the route did take us right through the city, it looked a nice place and there would be plenty to keep us occupied for a couple of days, it appears that our decision to re-locate from Olhaou had been a good one. Still following the bus we passed through the city and then along a ‘cobbled’ one way street, wide enough to cause no concern, that was until ‘Snoopy’ told us to take the next left turn. I could see from the mapping on ‘Snoopy’ that this was going to cause us a problem, this wasn’t just a left turn, this was a left hairpin turn !! When we got to the point where we had to turn I knew that this was going to be an impossible manoeuvre, ‘Big Momma’ would have needed to have been able to bend in the middle to have got around. So nothing for it, keep going straight on ! Fortunately within a few metres we came to a roundabout, this enabled us to come back on ourselves and approach the road at a much better angle, problem averted we continued following Snoopy’s guidance until we found ourselves in a ‘massive’ car park near the seafront. What a wonderful location, or it would have been had we have been about 10 feet shorter in length. This was a car park ! It would have suited a smaller ‘car size’ Motorhome but it certainly had nowhere to accommodate us. It was also a busy car park and we needed to find somewhere to park and re-assess our options. In the end I saw a tourist coach, not in a coach park, which may have been a viable compromise, no, this coach was just parked on the side of the road but I thought that if it could park there temporarily then so could we. There were no other alternative Aires nearby, it was a busy city with cars, buses and lorries everywhere, we needed to make a decision on what to do. Looking at the map we saw that ‘Quarteira’ was not far away, another tourist resort and it had an Aire. We were disappointed at not being able to park up here in Faro but sometimes these things happen. ‘Snoopy’ once again re-programmed, and with time knocking on, we needed to get out of the city and get to an Aire where we coul spend the night. Easier said than done, everything was fine until we came to a roundabout and our ‘trusted’ guide instructed us to take the second exit (straight across), I could see that there was a bit of a hold up of cars going into the street but could not see why, we pulled across the roundabout and joined the queue of traffic trying to exit. It was only when we were nearly in the ‘committed’ stage of turning down the street that we could see the reason for the traffic jam. The road was plenty wide enough for ‘Big Momma’ so ‘Snoopy’ had not given us a wrong route, however, what ‘Snoopy’ could not have identified was that this ‘one way’ street had vehicles ‘parked’ on both sides of the road !! Even cars were having a problem getting through so we stood no chance. Again, good fortune had shone upon us, we had not yet got to the stage of ‘no return’ so I was able to indicate that I was pulling back into the stream of traffic on the roundabout and I made good my escape. I did not now have a clue where to head for, ‘Snoopy’ was in delay mode and thought I was still going up the street it had directed us so I just took any road until ‘Snoopy’ decided to play catch up !! I have to confess that I was now becoming a little fraught, things were not going so well and it was only two split second decisions that had evaded what could have been some serious dilemmas and perhaps even some bodywork damage to ‘Big Momma’.

‘Snoopy’ eventually realised that we had not taken the ‘suggested’ route and instead of taking a hissy fit she had found us an alternative route out of the city. Again the road surfaces were lovely and smooth and I was able to just relax and let ‘Snoopy’ and ‘Big Momma’ take us to Quarteira. Once in the town the streets narrowed but nothing to cause any alarm. Perhaps it was because I was getting tired but for some reason I turned left earlier than ‘Snoopy’ had instructed me to. This resulted in me  finding myself on a one way narrow cobbled road which then became a dead-end !! I could not go forward, I could not turn around, there was only one thing for it, ‘Shazza’ out you get and see me back, again !! Okay, so I was irritated with myself for making such a stupid mistake but as Shazza and I were now getting pretty proficient in our communicating via hand signals I was confident that Shazza would once again get me out of my self-imposed dilemma. Although, I still can’t quite fathom what the two fingers she was giving to me meant, perhaps she was telling me about a ‘fork’ in the road ?? But we succeeded in getting out and were soon back on the right road again. That was until we came to the left hander that ‘Snoopy’ had wanted us to take, sorry ‘Snoops’ but you may know something we don’t, but from our view of the road this was certainly a ‘no can do’ ! ‘Snoopy’ this time through all ‘teddies’ out of the cot and blatantly refused to provide any further alternative route to the said ‘Aire’. I too had just about had enough, all I wanted to do now was to find somewhere to stop and park up for the night. We were just following a road out-of-town, we had no idea in which direction we were headed, we just needed somewhere to pull over so that we could re-programme ‘Snoopy’ to take us to an Aire that we hadn’t intended using for another 3-4 days, one with full facilities including toilets and showers. We passed an Aldi Supermarket on a roundabout but we could not see the entrance so kept going when suddenly, out of nowhere, on our left hand side we passed a gated large Motorhome Aire !! My first thought was that I was delirious, was this only a mirage, but we pulled over, turned around and made our way back to where we had seen this wonderful apparition. First impressions as we pulled up to the half closed gated entrance was that it was nothing more than a large car park, well Motorhome park ! A chappy came out of his hut, clipboard in hand and I asked him what facilities were available, he stated “parking 24 hours €2, Electricity optional €2 and 100 Litres of water, if required, €2” we decided that as the weather was not great and it had turned chilly that we would take the electricity, we paid our €4 (£3.47). We were told where the electric points were located and to find ourselves a place to park and that he would come along in 5 minutes to connect us. We selected our parking space amongst approximately thirty other Motorhomes of all shapes and sizes and one which was close to one of the several electricity hook up points. True to his word, no sooner had we parked up and he was there to unlock the electric box and get us connected. Now our first impressions were correct, this was nothing more than a very large hard standing Motorhome parking area that could easily accommodate over two hundred Motorhomes. As well as the electricity and fresh water it also had a Chemical Waste disposal (although no grey), proper WC’s, it was contained within a chain link fence and had security lighting. Well what more could you want ? Directly across the road there was a ‘British Kitchen’ sort of eatery that advertised home-made pies and desserts, next door was a nice looking restaurant (Belafonte), both of these establishments provided free WiFi and within a two-minute walk was the ‘Aldi’ supermarket we had passed earlier on the roundabout. This would do very nicely thank you. The weather forecast indicated that we were due for two days of rain and a severe drop in recent temperatures so the electric would come in very handy for the heating. We both agreed that we would probably just hold up here for the next four days but that we would pay on a daily basis so as to keep our options open. That is what I like about both the Aires and the Campsites over here, you pay either on a daily basis or you pay when you leave. Unlike the UK campsites where you have to say in advance how long you want to stay and then you have to pay up front !!

Our really friendly 'Gatekeeper'

Our really friendly ‘Gatekeeper’

Yup ! It looks like a big car park to me too, but at €2 a night with facilities, WiFi and even WC's !!

Yup ! It looks like a big car park to me too, but at €2 a night with facilities, WiFi and even WC’s !!

On our first night we heard a sound that we had not heard since we were at ‘Caceres’ in Spain, the gentle sound of light rain pitter pattering on the roof. We awoke at 07:30am, it was chilly and although it had stopped raining the clouds were grey and heavy so today would be one of those days where we did nothing. We were unable to pick up ‘Astra’ on the satellite only Hispasat which meant the only UK speaking channel was BBC World News. However, I had met another English couple (Harry & Hazel) who were fulltiming in a very nice Carthago, virtually the same layout as our good friends Paul and Debs in the UK. Harry had told me that we could pick up the local ‘KISS FM’ English speaking radio channel, so I tuned in a small ‘transistor radio’ I had brought with me and we listened to that which was good, as although it was broadcast from here in the Algarve it had all the UK News and Sport, bonus !! In return, I helped Harry connect his laptop, via his WiFi finder, to the restaurant WiFi signal across the road and also got the more accurate European weather forecast web page saved in his favourites folder.  Note to diary, invest in a WiFi finder (And Nick and Cath, we do remember you showing us yours when we were at Wisbech so we are now convinced we need one, if only for the convenience rather than necessity). Harry and Hazel were a very nice couple and they too were travelling West, so I am sure our paths will cross again at some point.

Harry and Hazel, a lovely couple that we met and may meet up with again as we are both travelling West

Harry and Hazel, a lovely couple that we met and may meet up with again as we are both travelling West

In between the drizzly rain periods we took a walk to the local ‘Aldi’ supermarket just to stretch our legs really and to stave off ‘Cabin Fever’, another note to diary, Shazza went into a supermarket and actually left without buying anything !! at least it shows the therapy is beginning to pay off !! In the evening we decided to eat out and so went across the road to the ‘Restaurant Belafonte’, where we enjoyed a bottle of wine, starters, main course, dessert, coffee and an after dinner liquor for the total cost of just €37.70 (£32.73). Just out of sheer coincidence, and for the regular readers of this blog, remember that ‘Alcoholic Berry’ we were introduced to and picked whilst at ‘Mina’s São Domingo’s’ ? Well the after dinner liquor (42%proof) was made from that berry, all I can say is that I am now glad I didn’t buy a bottle !! I didn’t dare have a cigarette afterwards as I may have made a quicker re-entry into the UK than the one I had planned !! We also met another English couple in the restaurant who were sat at an adjacent table, non-Motorhomers, here on a golfing holiday. We spent some time after the meal just chatting with them and the time just flew by, there was no hurry by the proprietor to get us to vacate the premises, in fact he made frequent visits to the tables and engaged in banter with us, he spoke excellent English and had a great sense of humour, what a wonderful evening it was.

Another weekend, another Saturday morning, just where do the weeks go ? We were awake early again and as the reliable European weather had forecast, it was wet, a drizzly wet, and there was a stiff breeze blowing, so we sat in bed with the duvet pulled up around us whilst we drank our coffee. It didn’t start off particularly cold and initially there was no requirement to put the electric heating on but it was certainly going to be a jeans and sweater day. We had not experienced too many wet days on this trip, but as the day went on the rain came and went, then came again and the temperature plummeted !! We were glad we had paid the €2 for the electric as we certainly needed the heating on. However, on days like this it does give us an opportunity to do some domestics inside the van. Shazza hoovered, then she emptied and cleaned the fridge and freezer, although I am sure this was just a ploy to check how much room she had to squeeze a bit more shopping in !! Whilst she did her chores I set about cleaning the internal windows of the cab and then I gave the dashboard and door panels a bit of a polish. It didn’t take long, I remember having to do cleaning in the house at weekends, when we had a house that was, and even with two of us sharing the domestic chores it would take us a few hours, the van on the other hand took all of half an hour !!

Ah! Caught on Camera !!

Ah! Caught on Camera !!

After a spot of lunch and with a respite in the weather I decided to take a look at the scuff mark on the van (the one that I had been meaning to look at for several days now !!), this was the calling card from some overhanging tree branches. A quick inspection from the vantage point of my step-ladder reflected that there were actually a ‘few’ scuff marks, on both sides, front and rear, although they were just surface scratches. No good leaving them though, so out came the wax and cloths and they were all soon polished out, another good job done ! I could do with another ‘loose moment’ day as this close inspection also revealed just how dirty ‘Big Momma’ had become. I hope I do not meet Steve from ‘Big Bird’ just yet, he would have a nervous breakdown if he saw the state I had let ‘Big Momma’ get into !! Apart from my occasional walks outside the van whilst I had a cigarette we spent the day in the warmth of the van and spent the evening watching one of the many DVD’s we had brought with us, ‘As Good As It Gets’ with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt, a humorous chick flick.

We had a bit of a lay in, well it was Sunday morning !! It is amazing how changeable the weather can be down here, yesterday it was cold, in fact it was bloody freezing !! This morning, blue sky and sunshine and back to short sleeve tee-shirts and shorts. It would be our last day here and so far we had not ventured into ‘Quarteira’ so we decided to put that right. We walked from the ‘Aire’ and headed in the direction of the beach, we saw quite a few hardy souls ‘surfing’, well to be honest they were not actually surfing, more like sat on their boards just waiting for the ‘big one’ which didn’t look as if it was going to arrive any time soon. This part of the beach has no restrictions in that dogs are allowed whereas the public beach is a dog free zone. ‘Quarteira’ has a wonderfully long Promenade, a very plush new bit which eventually comes to an end then the older part takes over, but this promenade stretches from one side of the town beachfront to the other, on one side there is the wonderful golden sands of the ‘public beach’ leading down to a very inviting blue Atlantic Ocean. The other side is adorned with the customary Cafés, Bars, restaurants, Tourist Tat shops, an Irish Bar, Snack Bars with one advertising ‘English Breakfast’ and ‘Sunday Roast Dinners’. Above and in between these establishments are the ever popular high-rise apartment blocks, some which look well maintained whilst others are looking a little tired. Yes we had arrived on the Portuguese equivalent of the Spanish Costa’s and Quarteira was one of the first major holiday resorts on the Algarve, due primarily to the Golf. However, it has since been overtaken in popularity by its neighbours, Albufeira for the golf and Portamao for the marina. To be fair, at this time of year Quarteira is quite pleasant, there were plenty of people about for a Sunday all ‘Promenading’ and enjoying the winter sunshine as well as being seen enjoying lunchtime aperitifs on the beachfront cafés and bars. Yet it was not bustling as I can imagine it would be in the height of summer. We walked the full length of the Promenade enjoying the car free environment in the warmth of the afternoon sunshine, watching fishermen perched precariously on the rocks just staying out of reach of the breaking surf and sea spray. Having reached the end of the promenade we turned around and walked back again, joining the cafe culture and stopping briefly for a light lunchtime snack and a coffee and just people watched. We then re-traced our route back to ‘Big Momma’, it was just a mere 7 mile stroll today, sufficient calories burnt to not feel any guilt over eating Sharon’s home-made ‘Pork Shnitzels, Mushroom Sauce and Chips’ for our evening meal !!

Beautiful Promenade at Quarteira

Beautiful Promenade at Quarteira


Another Day ! Another Beach !

Another Day ! Another Beach !

Can you believe that only two days before I was wearing a jumper and a fleece

Can you believe that only two days before I was wearing a jumper and a fleece !!

Has it only been six weeks since we boarded the ferry at Plymouth ? My goodness, we commence week seven tomorrow, where does the time go ? I thought things were supposed to slow down a little when you retired, or is that just the ‘mental functions’ ? The last time we put any diesel in ‘Big Momma’ was 29 days ago and we still do not need any ! That will do my budget statistics a bit of good !! What does seem strange is having to ‘start’ to think about Christmas when we are walking along a beach in shorts, tee-shirt and flip flops !! But yesterday’s very cold weather has made us stop and think. We are supposed to be meeting up with some earlier travelling companions, Brian & Carole, Ray & Sheila and perhaps even Tom & Karen in ‘Portamao’ around the 22nd December and then on Christmas Day having Dinner together at a Restaurant that Ray knows of from previous travels. The ‘Aire’ at Portamao does not have electricity though ! If the weather turns, as it did yesterday, then this could make it unbearably cold. Yes we do have gas heating but it is the ‘blown air’ type which requires electricity to power the fan blower. We could rely on the leisure batteries but this would drain them in no time and if the weather is as yesterday’s was, no sun, thick cloud and rain that would equal ‘No Solar’ to keep the batteries topped up, that really would give us an issue !! I guess we will just have to keep a keen eye fixed on the eight-day weather forecast, which has been exceptionally accurate so far, and then make potentially a last-minute decision. I would imagine that the other’s may have the same predicament so we may have to text or call them in the next couple of weeks, if our paths haven’t crossed again by them. The good news is that for the first time in very many years I do not have to climb up and down the ladders into the loft bringing the Christmas tree and the hoards of boxes containing Christmas decorations down, unpacking them all then cleaning up the mess from all the polystyrene packaging. I will however miss putting up the Christmas Tree in the house, that was always my job and as we used to collect different tree decorations from our travels around the world it brought back lots of happy memories as the tree was like our ‘Travel Log’ (yes the pun was intended !!). I guess I won’t have as many trips to make up the roof ladder on the Motorhome to put the tree on the roof though, (It’s too big to fit inside the van) but decorating the tree and then anchoring it down could be a little problematic !! Mmmm ! I wonder if the 6amp supply will actually be sufficient to work the habitation heating, the water boiler, the TV, the lights, Shazza’s Remoska, Re-charging the Hoover, iPods, Kindles, iPads, iPhones, laptop AND the Christmas Tree Lights ……………………. ??

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12 Responses to Our Initial Retirement Trip – Part Fifteen

  1. sean says:

    keep it coming! (sean alarm man)

  2. Nick & Cathy says:

    Another great blog! We had an interesting weekend at a Motorhome Meet (Motorhome Fun) and met some great people, and picked up a few tips. Next Monday is potentially D-Day for me at work, but I am keeping my powder dry for a bit longer as there are some impending restructures (so what’s new – I bet you are glad you are out of that [and we soon will be]) – I will keep you posted. Keep on trucking!

    N&C x

    • Hi guys, always good to hear from you both. Never mind restructures Nick, just get on with living :0) In fact, in my next post, which I am currently ‘drafting’ there is a good picture with some words of wisdom ? I am following your blog so keep it updated !! I think I can safely say that I am now out of the feeling of ‘holiday mode’ but Shazza and I still chuckle when we are in new places and generally just enjoying the relaxed way of life, we are now into the ‘pinch me’ moments just to make sure that we are still not just dreaming !! Your turn soon :0)

  3. DebsK says:

    Hi Eric and Sharon, sounds like you’re having a fantastic time, i’m envious shorts and tee-shirts, had to wear coat, hat and gloves on my way into work this morning and yes up into the attic at the weekend for the decs. Your blog has given me inspiration and I’ve started ours, might be a while before there is anything worth reading on it but its a start. Looking forward to the next update, tell sharon her abilities with the Remoska has made me start looking to purchase mine!

    • Hi Debs, believe me, we are not laughing about the coat, hat and gloves as we will come back to UK in January with a very big bump, probably will feel the cold even more than you after this weather !! Good news about the blog, let me know when you publish ? The Ramoska is good when you have electric and it saves on the washing up :0) I have posted some costings on the forum from our first 6 weeks on the road over here, may help with your planning ?

  4. John Strange says:

    Hello mate, reading your blog reminds me of your CI reports! Now why would that be I wonder!! Really good to see you enjoying yourselves, carry on!

    Oh, been there – stayed in a really nice hotel. Lovely!

    • Could it be that my reports were always very comprehensive, detailed and left no questions unanswered :0) lol

      Had a couple Of days of rain but normal service now resumed ! Bloody cold at night though, heating on !!

      • John strange says:

        Not quite what I was thinking! But close! And there is me sat here in yet another posh hotel eating my posh grub ……. And so on!

  5. Debs says:

    Another Brilliant Blog Eric…….. I love reading them…… When your back in January can you bring back some sunshine please giggles…….. Have a lovley day 🙂

    • Hi Debs, good to hear from you and that you are still enjoying my inane ramblings :0) Certainly will try and bring some good weather back with us, some for you but a whole lot more for us, otherwise we are going to freeze after being used to warmth !! Shazza has done a second trim !! Actually made a pretty decent job of it !! Take care, regards to all :0)

  6. Debs says:

    Giggles oh no not another trim lol !!!!. will look forward to seeing the Photos enjoy 🙂

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