Thursday 19th December – Alvor ‘Aire’ to Silves (15 miles)
The intention had been to stay at the Alvor ‘Aire’ for a few days, not only did it have all the ‘essential’ facilities we required but it was located close to all the towns amenities and a long stretch of sandy beach just right for walking. After feeling a little rough the previous day, I had slept exceptionally well and thankfully I felt totally revitalised, back to ‘normal’ again and it felt good. However, it had rained in the night and the red sandy surface on the ‘Aire’ was no longer dust but now turning into a sticky ‘gue’. It was very overcast and the clouds were a threatening colour of dark grey, although this would have been a nice place to rest up, not so if the heavens opened and turned it into a river of red mud, we decided somewhat reluctantly to ‘move on’. I have used the word ‘flexibility’ many times in my blog posts and this is certainly something that you need to be, prepared to move on at short notice. The ‘where to’ was not a difficult decision, we were only fifteen miles from the ‘Aire’ at Silves, we had stayed there the previous weekend, it was a nice ‘Aire’ in another nice town, this one however had Electricity and a Washing Machine, as well as the other usual Motorhome facilities. We were booked onto the ‘Christmas Rally’ at Camping Albufeira on Monday 23rd for five nights so we decided that, if there was space on the ‘Aire’ at Silves that is where we would stay until Monday morning.
We prepared ‘Big Momma’ and then before departing Alvor we used their ‘Service Point’ to make sure that all our on-board facilities were ’empty or full’ as appropriate. We knew the route, it was a good straightforward run so there were no dramas involved on today’s journey. After a pleasant and thankfully ‘uneventful’ drive we were soon pulling on to the ‘Aire’. It certainly had a few more ‘occupants’ than when we last visited but we found a space on the front just a couple of places down from where we had last been parked. It really is strange how some places you have visited just the once, and you take a liking to them, then become a familiar and safe ‘haven’ ! Before long we were all settled in again, Shazza made a trip to the Laundry and placed her ‘first’ bag of washing into the queue for the one and only machine. I knew that we could get WiFi here in the van so I needed to ‘download’ a tremendous amount of Photographs from my iPad ‘Camera Roll’ into my ‘WordPress’ blog Media Library. I do not know whether it was because the ‘Aire’ was nearly full and the weather was bleak so everyone was using the Internet connection, but the WiFi was painstakingly slow and kept disconnecting. The frustrating thing about this is that when you are downloading a Photograph image, even if it has got to 99% completed, if the connection is lost then you have to start all over again. I will not bore you with how many times this happened but suffice to say that even by bedtime I had not succeeded !! During the rare occasions throughout the evening that I had managed to get a connection I managed to publish a pre-written ‘post’. Shortly after it had been published, I received a comment to it which asked if I was currently on the ‘Aire’ at Silves ? The comment, stated that they had been following my blog from the beginning and they too had arrived at the Silves ‘Aire’ today. I confirmed that we were here and gave the ‘pitch’ number that I was occupying. Shortly afterwards there was a knock on the door and the lady introduced herself as ‘Dee’. I had communicated with ‘Dee’ previously, on the Motorhome 365 Forum, this was before commencing our big adventure. Dee lives on one of the ‘Canary Islands’, she has a Motorhome but had never toured Portugal before and now here she was. We sat chatting for well over an hour and discussed places that we had each been to whilst here on the Algarve. Another couple who we have met several times at various places on this trip, pulled into another pitch just a few places down from us. They are going to kill me for this, i can only remember ‘Ian’s’ name and not his wife’s, I blame Shazza for not remembering !! But we had a brief chat and caught up with ‘stuff’ as you do !
It had been a wet, ‘very’ windy and quite a cold night compared to what we had been used to but we both slept very well. After making the morning coffee’s I passed Shazza her iPad, with WiFi we can tune in to BBC Radio 2 and catch up with all the News. She told me that it was a good connection so I sat in bed with my coffee and iPad and successfully downloaded all my Photographs, inserted them into the respective posts and then published them, now I was completely up to date !!
Shazza wanted to hang out the washing that she done yesterday which meant that we needed to take the bicycles off the rear cycle carrier so that she could utilise the ‘Fiamma’ clothes line, so this was first task of the day. The second task was drinking my second cup of coffee outside the van whilst ‘socialising’ with two of my fellow British Motorhomers. During our ‘socialising’ one of them, ‘Paul’, happened to mention that he also wrote a blog, the logical question followed, (www.PaulandLynne2011.blogspot.co.uk) and again, not for the first time on this ‘adventure’ you could have knocked me over with a feather. Several years ago, whilst in my early ‘dreaming’ stages, I followed many blogs, and some of them I even communicated with in my thirst for information and knowledge. Here, stood in front of me was Paul whom I had communicated with all those years ago, well about two and a half years ago actually, What a small world this is !! Later in the day ‘Tom & Karen’ arrived and managed to get the vacant pitch next to us, this was turning into a right old re-union.
Shazza, with her ‘Head Chef’ hat on stated that a re-stock of the ‘butchery’ department was required. She had taken a liking to the quality of the ‘meat’ sold at ‘Lidl‘. This meant another round trip ‘Shazza Expedition of 3 miles but as she had let me have a ‘day off’ yesterday I couldn’t complain, well I could but it would have been futile so I didn’t bother. I always try to see the positive side in Shazza’s shopping expeditions, surely now after all her ‘Research’ activity we must have acquired some shares in all of these ‘Supermercado’s’ !! I was permitted to have the afternoon at leisure whilst she took a second load of washing to the Laundry, then she started to prepare our evening meal, a beautiful Pork Goulash with ‘Herby’ Dumplings !! I had been sat out in my chair enjoying the afternoon sunshine whilst ‘drafting’ this next blog post and she even brought me a nice glass of ‘Vino Tinto’, what would I do without her ? Whilst sat outside the van, musing over the content that needed to be put into this post, looking at the horses and the Storks in the field opposite, I got into conversation with our ‘Dutch’ neighbours ‘Anneke and Kees’ and we whiled away a good hour or so discussing the merits of the Motorhoming lifestyle, after the events of the last couple of days my equilibrium had been restored, all in all it had been a rather pleasant day. When the sun goes down so do the temperatures, but we had also got stuck with a bit of a cold breeze as well, which meant that there was a bite in the chilled air so it was a hasty retreat into the sanctuary of ‘Big Momma’ where Shazza served up a wonderful Pork Goulash, and boy was it tasty !! We finished the evening off watching a DVD, and oldish film with Sean Connery, Marc Harmon and A very young Meg Ryan.
Their was a definite chill in the air when we awoke at a little before 08:30am, I had pre-prepared the kettle and coffee mugs the night before so it was a quick ‘kick start of the lungs’, switch on the gas heating, before darting back under the duvet until the kettle had boiled, I noted the internal temperature was showing 7.2 degrees(c). By the time we had drunk our coffee it was as warm as toast inside the van so I got up, got dressed and went to do the morning ‘climate check’. The sun had certainly gotten out of its pyjamas but was still a bit sluggish getting onto its perch high into what was a nice clear blue sky. Their was no wind today and it felt as if it would be a nice warm sunny day, but for now at least it was still a jeans and sweat shirt moment !
For regular followers of my humble ramblings, you will remember the slight argument that ‘Big Momma’ had with a small concrete bollard at ‘Mina São Domingo’s’, resulting in a slight crack to her rear skirting ! Well, it may be several weeks overdue but today I am going to take a look at it and see if I can do a running repair, this silver/grey coloured ‘Duck Tape’ will certainly come in useful. Whilst I am in this ‘active’ state of mind I will also take the opportunity of having a ‘near the pitch’ access to a water tap to give ‘Big Momma’s’ windows, inside and out, a bit of a clean. As I was preparing the ‘essential’ pieces of equipment I saw ‘Kees’ my Dutch neighbour and he told me that we had frost last night and that when he had got up at 06:30am the fields were still white !! I am not certain whether I was more shocked about the frost, or that he actually gets up at 06:30am !! I set about my tasks and was making good progress, I had sorted the rear skirt on ‘Big Momma’ and had started cleaning the windows, but then Karen emerged from next door and it is only neighbourly to say good morning and have a chat isn’t it ? However, I had started a chain of events along our row of Motorhomes, Kees had got his bucket, brush and cloths and set about cleaning his van which then set off the Frenchman next to him, I would have kept pace with them but then Karen introduced to me to ‘Chris’ who was parked a couple of vans down and we got to chatting a little more and before I knew it, Kees had finished cleaning his van, oh ! and the top and underside of his roll out awning and he had been on the roof and cleaned his ‘Heki’ skylights and Solar Panels…………….!!
Then just after Chris and I had finished chatting and I was getting stuck into my cleaning again this fantastic looking ‘British’ registered ‘Frankia‘ Motorhome pulled up and reversed into a pitch just down from us, I couldn’t stop drooling and so another minor interruption !! Then the owners of this beautiful vehicle passed by, ‘Colin & Pamela’, and we got chatting, well it would have been rude not to wouldn’t it ?
Finally, I succeeded in cleaning ‘Big Momma’, okay, okay !! I confess, the windows (internal and external) and the external cab areas but the roof, Heki’s, Solar Panels, Sides and Rear will have to wait for another day !! Today was the ‘shortest day’ apparently, which meant that I only had a little bit of time left for a spot of ‘chillaxing’ in my sun chair in the now very warm afternoon sunshine !! The intention was to catch up with my blog post but Chris just happened to be passing again and we got ‘chatting’ again !! When Chris went, our very nice ‘Dutch’ neighbours invited us to take a glass of wine with them, well it would have been rude not to, wouldn’t it ? We had actually had several conversations with ‘Keese & Anneke’ over the last couple of days and they were so friendly that we just felt as if we had known them for a lot longer. There is no need for a bar man to ring a bell or shout last orders, when the sun drops here so does the temperature, it is like someone flicks a switch from hot to cold and the change is instantaneous !! So we said our goodbyes for the evening and once again we took refuge inside Big Momma.
After finishing our evening meal I had taken the rubbish to the waste bins and upon my return discovered ‘Colin & Pamela’ at the door, they had moved to a different pitch as Colin has an ‘allergy’ to animals of the canine variety and on his original pitch he was literally surrounded by them ! They were just on their way into the local town for a meal but invited us around for a drink before we left on Monday. We arranged to meet up tomorrow and we would see them during the day to arrange a time.
Now you may just get sick of me keep saying this, but I am still absolutely amazed at the friendliness within this Motorhome community, people of all nations who you have never met before, but who you can chat and socialise with, I have said it before, many times I know, but I will say it again, we both absolutely love this new ‘lifestyle’ we have embarked upon, we dared to dream, we dared to step out of our comfort zones, we are now living ‘our’ dream and we will need to keep pinching ourselves over and over again just to ensure that we really are actually doing it.
Another good nights sleep but we awoke to a definite chill in the van and whilst conducting my morning ritual I checked the temperature gauge and it read 5.7 degrees(c), the heating was switched on !! It was Sunday morning, we had WiFi so we spent a little time in bed, drinking our coffee whilst listening to ‘Steve Wrights Sunday Love Songs’ on the iPad. I left Shazza in bed whilst I went to do a temperature check, the sun was getting up but there had definitely been a frost last night and until the sun had got a little stronger it was definitely a jeans and sweatshirt morning. I don’t actually know where today disappeared to, I had spent some time ‘socialising’ with Tom & Karen, Chris & Angela, Paul & Lynne and a quick visit to Colin & Pamela to see what time they wanted us around this evening for drinks. We had walked to the local supermarket, for what Shazza had stated was ‘just a few items‘ and came back €80 worse off but 10 bottles of ‘Vino Tinto’ better off !!
Kees had a problem with his satellite TV so I had spent some time with him in his van trying to get it sorted, Between us we managed to confirm that there was no technical problem with either his satellite receiver or his TV, we were able to get Portuguese, French & German TV channels but unfortunately we were not able to get his Dutch TV Channels !! We lamented our failure with a glass or three of ‘Vino Tinto’. We spent another late afternoon with Kees & Anneke, they were such nice people and with a great sense of humour, we were actually beginning to regret not staying here over Christmas as there were a great bunch of people on this ‘Aire’ and there was a lovely atmosphere. However, I am sure that once we get to the Christmas Rally site that we will soon settle in and make new acquaintances and of course we will get the chance to meet up with Paul and Sharon again.
After dinner we went around to Colin & Pamela’s Motorhome and spent a lovely evening chatting. They had done quite a lot of European touring in a number of different vehicles and so we spent the evening exchanging travel anecdotes, discussing our respective lives ‘pre-retirement’ and before we knew it three hours had just flown by !!
This is our last post before Christmas, so Sharon and I would like to wish a Merry Christmas to my Mum & Dad, Sonia, Chris and Sarah, Stacey and Dean and also our wider family members, too numerous to mention or this may get to be like one of those Oscar Award Winners speeches !! Also to both Sharon’s and my former work colleagues and our friends, who we know are following our adventures via this blog, the occasional phone call and text, and Internet permitting, the odd ‘Skype’ call !!
However, we would both also like to say a big thank you to the many ‘followers’ of this blog, there have been over 14,000 views from 42 different countries and I am sincerely grateful for your interest in my humble ramblings. Although we obviously know some of the ’92’ people who have currently ‘subscribed’ to ‘follow’ our blog, we do not know the majority of you, but whoever and wherever you are Sharon and myself (and ‘Dave’, Big Momma, Snoopy, Kevin and okay ! even that damn Duck !!) would like to wish you all a ‘VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS’ and a safe, peaceful and happy ‘NEW YEAR’………………..
And, last but not least, to every one of all Nationalities, who we have had the pleasure to meet so far on our travels, thank you all for your friendship……… HAPPY CHRISTMAS !!………………..