Our Initial Retirement Trip – Part Twenty Eight

Monday 23rd December – Silves to ‘Camping Albufeira’ Christmas Rally (19 Miles)

I do not know why it is that we never seem to have a good night’s sleep on the night before we are due to ‘move on’, but it has been a regular theme on our travels, perhaps it is excitement at travelling to a new destination, trepidation as we were not sure about the roads or what we would encounter at the next stop, or perhaps, on this occasion, it was the not knowing what to expect on the Camping & Caravanning Club Christmas Rally, we had ‘never’ attended rally’s in all our years of either Caravanning or Motorhoming !! Mind you, on saying that, before we started this ‘Big Adventure’ we had never Wild Camped or used ‘Aires’ !! Now, our preferences, in order of priority are 1) Wildcamping locations 2) Aires, and then only if essential or there are no other alternatives, 3) Campsites.

We were both somewhat disappointed that we had made the decision to leave ‘Silves’ over the Christmas period, there was just something about that ‘Aire’ that was ‘comfortable and relaxing’. We had ‘Kees and Anneke’ as neighbours to one side, we had ‘Tom and Karen’ on the other side and along the same row just a few pitches away we had ‘Chris and Angela’ and ‘Paul and Lynne’. Dee and Tina and Colin and Pamela, like us, were also moving on today. Local tradesmen came onto the Aire to sell Bread and Pastries, Oranges, Figs, Home-made wine and the town of Silves offered everything we could possibly want, a couple of decent sized ‘Supermercado’s’, a lovely Municipal Market, lots of local shops, cafés and restaurants, one of which was serving a ‘Christmas Day’ dinner, the main course being ‘Roast Beef & Yorkshire Puddings’ !! At least we would be having a traditional Christmas Dinner, ‘Turkey’ with all the trimmings and ‘Christmas Pudding’ at our ‘Rally Venue’.

We awoke a little later than usual and ‘unusually’ it was ‘Shazza’ that was awake first, which I guess was a bit of a bonus as I hadn’t heard her get up or put the kettle on, the first I knew was when she delivered me my morning cuppa in bed rather than the other way around. It is now chilly in the mornings, well it is ‘Winter’, and the internal temperature was just a little over 7 degrees(c) so a quick blast of the heating was required until the sun started to work its magic through the windows. We had not been as well organised as we usually would be. Generally, the evening before ‘move on’ day the bicycles would have been re-secured onto the rear cycle carrier and the bicycle cover put on but we had been otherwise engaged, an afternoon glass (or two) of ‘Vino Tinto’ with our lovely Dutch neighbours was followed in the evening by a couple of glasses of ‘Vino Tinto’ with Colin & Pamela in their van, so we didn’t quite get around to doing some of the routine tasks that we should have done. This of course meant that it had to be done this morning ! Once the bicycles had been secured, it takes the both of us to lift them up onto the cycle carrier, Shazza disappeared off to the Supermarket to get some freshly baked bread rolls for our lunchtime snack whilst I got the other bits ‘n’ pieces stowed away. Dee popped around and gave us a Christmas Card, how thoughtful and nice was that. We hadn’t even thought about bringing out with us, or buying, Christmas cards. We had distributed all our Christmas Cards in the UK back in October before departing on the ferry, we had not even considered that we would make such good friends on our travels, so this is another thing that we have learnt on this our ‘maiden Fulltimers’ voyage of discovery. We said our farewells and then just before departing the ‘Aire’ we made use of the ‘Service Point’. The Campsite we were heading to would, I imagine, have a ‘Service Point’ but I always like to arrive and get straight onto my ‘pitch’. Some will scorn me for doing so as they will tell me, and rightly so, that carrying full water will reduce my fuel consumption. However, my argument to counter that is that my water tank, when full, carries 100 Litres, my Waste Water when full has a capacity of 80 Litres and the Toilet cassette 17 Litres, both of which required emptying, so do you carry 100 Litres of fresh water or 97 Litres of Waste ? And another thing ? If you have to empty and fill upon arrival, you may just miss out on the best ‘pitching’ opportunity at the new location as someone takes it whilst you are the Service Point’ !! So there is a method in my madness as they say !!

Our journey was along the now very familiar N125 to Albufeira. We had got the Co-ordinates from the ‘Club’s‘ website and programmed them into ‘Snoopy’ and she delivered us without any dramas right to the front door ! The big difference with Wildcamping and using ‘Aires’ to using ‘Campsites’ is the formalities. Obviously none whatsoever for Wildcamping locations and on ‘Aires’ where there is a charge you just turn up, collect a ticket at the entry barrier, park up then pay upon exit, or park up and pay someone in a little office or they come around and collect your money. However, on a campsite you park outside the Reception, take your passports and, if appropriate, any ‘Camping Cards’ (ACSI or CCI) then you complete registration paperwork.

Upon arrival at Camping Albufeira there was no “Welcome to Camping Albufeira’, instead, the rather miserable, unsmiling young man on reception just said “Voucher’, not a Portuguese word that I had so far encountered so I just gave him a blank look, “Booking Voucher” he retorted, “Oh !” I replied, “I don’t have one”, he then gave me a blank look and for a second or three we just looked at each other with the same blank expression. I won the battle of the silences, “Name” he said. I gave him my name, he shuffled through a box of paperwork on the desk beside him and then pulled a sheet of paper from the bundle. Reading it upside down I could see both our names, details of our outfit etc and he tapped something into his computer. “CCI Card” he said, no please, no thank you, no smile, no expression in fact I nearly reached out to prod him to check that he was a real person and not just a ‘hologram’ !! “It was being sent from England to here” I told him. “Check the Mail Box” he said, and pointed to a cardboard box at the opposite end of the reception counter. I did as was ordered, the mixture of Mail was in no particular order so I started at the front, yes ! you guessed it, an envelope addressed to me was almost the last one from the back !! I opened it and sure enough, there was my new CCI Card which I took back to the miserable unsmiling man. “Passports” he demanded, so I handed these over and again he tapped something into his computer. Then he shuffled the documents, I thought he was going to show me a card trick ! “Twenty Two Euro and Fifty Cents” he said, “What for ? I have already paid” I responded. He held up three plastic cards, “Barrier Cards, one for your vehicle and two for the pedestrian gate, Seven Euro and Fifty Cents deposit each” he explained. I told him that I would not need the vehicle barrier card as I would not be going off the site with it until the day I left. “You will need it to get on the site” he replied, “Now that is a very good point” I said and smiled at him, for the first time he looked up at me and smiled !! We exchanged money for barrier cards, he handed me all my documents back, plus my three barrier cards and a site plan. He marked where I needed to be and told me that I must report to the ‘Stewards’ first before parking and then he reached below the desk and placed before me a black box with a plastic carrying handle and announced “A Christmas Gift from Camping Albufeira’. I thanked him and returned to Shazza and ‘Big Momma’, never mind report to the stewards, what is in the black box ? A set of ear muffs to keep out the cold, as well as drowning out the noise of those night-time barking dogs perhaps ? But no, it was a bottle of Sparkling White Wine and a bottle of ‘Vino Tinto’, now that was a really nice touch I thought, although to be honest our stash of ‘Vino Tinto’ was already overflowing, thanks to Shazza’s ‘Just a few items‘ shopping spree ! so the ear muffs would have been put to better use as the temperature by 10pm had already dropped to 3.5 degrees(c) and those flipping dogs were barking already !!!! I guess we will just have to crack open a bottle or two of the ‘falling over juice’ and then we would neither feel the cold or hear those damn dogs !!

As instructed, by Señor Miserable receptionist, we dutifully reported to our ‘Rally Stewards’ and what a breath of fresh air that was, we were met by smiling faces and a cheery “And who have we here ?”. We were advised of the area of pitches allocated for the Rally and that we could choose our own pitch, we were also told which direction the sun rose and set so that we could position ourselves accordingly, where the Two Motorhome Service Points were, the two toilet/shower blocks, where to hook up to the Electric Points, in fact everything we needed to know. These Stewards were not only efficient and well organised they actually seemed to be genuinely happy in what they were doing. We had pre-booked Christmas Day Dinner but needed to pay for it, so we got that sorted and were given our tickets and even allocated our table for the event, this was going very well, I thought to myself. There were four Stewards and each of them welcomed us and shook our hands. Perhaps they could do a bit of ‘On the job training on inter-personal skills’ to Señor Miserable Receptionist ? There were quite a few Caravans, Motorhomes and even a ‘Fifth Wheeler’ already ‘pitched’ up but there were still plenty of pitches available. We selected one that would provide sunshine for the majority of the day, albeit the weather forecast had shown that we may not get a lot of that over the next two or three days !! We got ourselves sorted and was pleased that we would have 10 Amp Electric rather than the usual 6 Amp, oh yes ! that extra 4 Amps does make a big difference, believe me !!

Our pitch at the 'Camping Albufeira' Christmas Rally

Our pitch at the ‘Camping Albufeira’ Christmas Rally

We had lunch and then a short stroll around the site to familiarise ourselves with the location of the facilities. Unfortunately, whilst WiFi was available it was only from the Bar Terrace and not on the pitches, but at least we had access to the Internet and so hopefully we could ‘Skype’ our families at some point on Christmas Day. Stacey, my daughter was in Australia for Christmas and New Year so I really wanted to be able to get to speak with her, Sharon also wanted to speak to her Mum (Sonia) and to her son, Chris.  We are however realistic, even in the UK with a landline, let alone mobile phones, the ‘global’ telecommunications are overloaded with families separated for a multitude or reasons all wanting to touch base with each other, so whilst it would be nice to speak with our respective families we had already pre-warned them that it may not be possible and so had already passed on our festive greetings to each other.

By mid-afternoon it was already getting chilly so we both took the opportunity to avail ourselves of the on-site showers and just luxuriate in being able to have a plentiful supply of piping hot water. After our evening meal in ‘Big Momma’ and clearing and sorting the dishes, Shazza set about making some Mince Pies whilst I went to the bar terrace to utilise the ‘free’ WiFi to check my Emails and Blog Admin. I was a little surprised that with all these people on the site that the bar was not actually open, although, being a bit unfamiliar with the layout it is extremely likely that there may have been another bar on the site that was open that I hadn’t yet found. However, the bar near the terrace area where the WiFi signal was available was definitely closed, that was not an issue, but the terrace area was in complete darkness, you would have thought that they could have left some sort of lighting on. It was quite eery really, you could not actually see other people sat at the tables on the terrace, but you could see the back lights of two or three computers or iPads. Fortunately my daughter in Australia was on-line and over there it was already 07:30 in the morning on Christmas Eve Day ! I was able to call her on ‘Skype’, it was a little surreal as I could see her quite clearly, but because there was no lighting she could not see me at all, so I waved the lit end of my cigarette around so that she could see it, which made her laugh. She may be twenty-nine years old but when it comes to Christmas she gets all excited and turns back into a six-year-old !! We chatted for around twenty minutes but then, as I had already been out on the terrace for over an hour doing ‘Admin’, I was getting pretty cold so we again wished each a Merry Christmas and promised to at least try to make contact again on Christmas Day and then I headed back to Shazza and the warmth of Big Momma.

Tuesday 24th December – Christmas Ev

We should have drunk the ‘Christmas Gift’ we received from the campsite upon our arrival !! This has to be the noisiest place we have stayed, it is right next to a main road and even well after midnight the consistent sound of traffic going past combined with the packs of dogs who were out doing their ‘Christmas Howling’ was pretty bad, or perhaps it really was tone-deaf ‘Carol Singers’, so neither of us slept that well. There was no need to do the weather check this morning, drinking our coffee in bed we could see through the large ‘Heki’ skylight and the clouds were thick and grey, the tree branches were waving from side to side, a bit like people at ‘pop concerts’ who hold their hands above their heads and rhythmically sway them from side to side, this would most definitely be a jeans, sweatshirt and perhaps even a fleece day !! We had to make a decision this morning, do we join in a Christmas Eve ‘Buffet & Dodgems’ evening down on the ‘Strip’. Transport had been provided for €2 each, the ‘Buffet’ was ‘free’ and the ‘Dodgem Cars’ which normally cost €3 had been negotiated down to just €1. Apparently, last year at the same event ‘Bob’, no not the builder, but the ‘Bob’ with the false leg ? had been ‘ganged up on’ on the Dodgems, resulting in his false leg coming off and his false teeth flying across the floor, sounds like it could be fun !! We decided that it would be a good way of getting to know a few of our fellow ‘Campers’ before the BIG Christmas Day Dinner festivities and so once dressed I walked across to the ‘Stewards’ area and asked if there were any spaces left. Initially they told me that all the transport was fully booked !! however, one of the stewards remembered that another couple had said that they would be willing to go in their hire car if necessary. Bob, no not the builder ! or the one with the false leg ! but  Bob the ‘Rally Steward’, was dispatched to check that this was still okay, which it was and we were booked onto the transport, yee hah !! Shazza spent the morning cooking the ‘Mince Pies’ she had prepared yesterday afternoon whilst I spent my time ‘socialising’ with the neighbours, and anyone else that I managed to corner !! Then Sharon & Paul came around and we chatted over coffee and warm mince pies !! Then I spent all of two minutes putting up the decorations inside ‘Big Momma’. We spent the rest of the afternoon inside the van listening to the local ‘English’ music station, KISS FM 102.2, on our little transistor radio. Apart from the outside temperature, 13 degrees(c), albeit the radio station told us it was 17 degrees(c) !!, I am not sure who supplies them with their weather forecasting but I reckon it must be someone who thinks of a number, multiplies it by another number then divides it by another number and hey presto, that’s close enough for government work as they say ! If it’s wrong then they issue the statement that meteorology is not an ‘exact’ science !!  However, let’s just say that although it was not cold, with the dark and rain threatening leaden sky, it was an Autumnal looking day with trees blowing in what was quite a strong wind and the fallen leaves blowing were blowing around in nice circular patterns, but I am sure that you get the picture !!

Our Christmas Decorations !!

Our Christmas Decorations !!

Around an hour before we were due to go out to our ‘Buffet and Dodgems’ evening, the site power went off ! Shortly afterwards it came back on and then five minutes later it went off again. This time however it appeared to be just our van and that of our immediate neighbour that were without mains power as the street lights were on and the Christmas lights in ‘other’ Peoples vans and awnings were on. A quick visit to the Hook-up point, the usual trick is to just unplug from one connection and re-connect to another, on this occasion none of the other connections in our particular hook-up point were working either !! I went to the Rally Stewards accommodations where they advised me to go to reception and they would sort it. I did and they did !! It wasn’t a major dilemma, we did have leisure batteries as a back-up, but if it got cold tonight I wanted to be able to turn on the electric heating, as I had paid for the electric hook-up, rather than use my precious supply of LPG.

We remained in ‘Big Momma’ until the allotted hour then made our way to the transportation pick-up point outside the main reception. We were ‘ferried’ the short distance to the ‘Strip’ in a shuttle service of mini-buses. We were fortunate to go in the second bus and so were able to comondere a table before the remaining hoards arrived. It was actually a well subscribed event and next door to the ‘bar’, in which the event was being hosted, were the ‘dodgem cars’ which I guess was one of the rare occasions when ‘drinking and driving’ was permitted ! A very nice buffet was provided during the evening and then a little after 10pm, those who wanted to go back were again ‘shuttle bused’ back to the campsite. Those who wished to stay longer had to make their own way back !! Remember the story about ‘Bob’, no not the ‘builder’ or the ‘Rally Steward’ but the one with the ‘false leg’ !! I hope you are keeping up with all of this, although I am not sure that I am and I am the one writing it !! Anyway, it sounded like a bit of a tall story, one of those that gets exaggerated little by little every time it is told. Well not on this occasion. I happened to be outside the bar having a cigarette break and happened to get talking to another chap outside. During the course of the conversation he just happened to tell me about how he was on the Dodgems last year and they ganged up on him and bumped him so hard that his false leg came off and his false teeth went flying across the floor. This is where all my years of detective skills came in useful once more as I announced, in an authoritative sort of way, “You must be Bob” ? The wine was going down too well and had we have stayed it would have got ‘messy’, with a full afternoon scheduled on Christmas Day we elected to return on the provided transport.

Wednesday 25th December – Christmas Day !!

Neither of us had heard either the traffic noise or the barking dogs during the night. It wasn’t because they were in bed early so that they would be fast asleep when Santa called. No ! The reason we could not hear them was because the rain was quite literally pelting it down on the roof of the van, aided by the gale force wind which continuously shook the van all through the night, and yes, that is the only reason the van was ‘rocking’ on this particular night !! The noise of the raging gale and the beating of the rain on the roof made it difficult to sleep. Eventually we must have drifted off but we were then both awake again at 04:00am, with headaches and a thirst !! I reckon that the wine we were drinking contained ‘sulphates’. It is the ‘Sulphates’ in red wine that causes you have to headaches, not a lot of people know that !!

So, after another less than restful night we were awake again at 09:00am, it was still a bit gusty outside and although the sky was still leaden it had at least stopped raining. Coffee was made and we sat in bed drinking it before venturing across to the shower block. I needed to get up to the bar terrace to ‘Skype’ my daughter Stacey in Australia where they were eleven hours ahead, so they would have already opened their presents, eaten Christmas Dinner, consisting of their National Festive Fare, Kangaroo Burgers and Koala Bear Sausages washed down with a few cans of ‘Croc Juice’ and by now they would no doubt be suffering with the usual Christmas Day excesses, I wasn’t sure whether I would get any coherent conversation !! As it was, there obviously hadn’t been any ‘Sulphates’ in their ‘Croc Juice’ as I had a good conversation with my daughter and after wishing her, her boyfriend Dean and his Mum a Happy Christmas it was back to ‘Big Momma’ to make the other festive calls to family and friends in the UK. On our way back to the van we were confronted by ‘Santa’ and three of his helpers (The Rally Stewards) each of whom were suitably festively attired, they wished us a Merry Christmas and offered us chocolates, they were going around each individual  Motorhome and Caravan !!

Santa and his helpers dishing out Chocolates to the 'Campers'

Santa and his helpers dishing out Chocolates to the ‘Campers’

We arrived at the site function room for pre-dinner drinks, as well as the meal, all drinks were included in the cost, nice one ! There was a wide choice of non-alcoholic drinks, wines, beers and spirits (not locally branded either). Shazza and I elected the ice-chilled Sangria, and very nice it was too. We found our designated table, and although the tables were set to accommodate ten people there were only the six at our’s and we had the company of Peter, Shirley, Tony and Marianne.

Pre-dinner drinks !

Pre-dinner drinks !

At each table their was a bottle of Red, Rose and White Wine and two large bottles of ‘soft’ drinks, and throughout the meal these were replaced as quickly as they were emptied !! I have to say that over the years I have attended ‘functions’ that have had to cater for large numbers of diners and the meals were seldom hot when they arrived at the table so my expectations were not great. We were provided with a four course meal, Prawn Cocktail, Pumpkin Soup, Full Christmas Dinner (both Turkey and Pork), Christmas Pudding or Ice Cream finished off with Coffee and proper ‘After Eight’ mint chocolates. I have to heap mountains of praise on the staff here, both the ‘back and front of house’, not only was the food that was supposed to be hot, served piping hot, but the quantity was amazing and that went for the meat portions and not just the potatoes and vegetables !! The efficiency of the staff was quite impressive, and even though those people were missing out with not being with their own families on Christmas Day, they all had ‘genuine’ friendly smiles on their faces. None of those people know of this blog so will not read this ‘post’. Therefore, my praise is made in genuine sincerity and appreciation as I am massively impressed. Proceedings had commenced at 12:30 and people were still enjoying the after dinner music when Shazza and I left, ‘well stuffed and watered’ at 5pm.

Peter, Shirley, Marian, Tony and of course Shazza

Peter, Shirley, Marian, Tony and of course Shazza

I think it would be remiss of me not to make mention of all the hard work that the four ‘Rally Stewards’ quite obviously put in to these events. Not only do they personally meet and greet all new arrivals and provide the appropriate information, as one would expect, and with smiles on their faces, but they organise events both on and off the site, none of which are mandatory or ‘forced’ upon individuals. What a truly outstanding service they provide, especially considering that these people are ‘Volunteers’ !! Whilst their expenses are covered they do not actually receive any payment for this !!

Cheers ! And no I do not know why Shazza is resting her chin on my glass !!

Cheers ! And no I do not know why Shazza is resting her chin on my glass !!

The rain had managed to stay away for the majority of the day, it did make a short re-appearance during the evening but by then we were warm and cosy inside Big Momma. We watched a DVD and then whilst Shazza hunkered down under the Duvet I sat and updated my latest draft of ‘War and Peace’.

Thursday 26th December – ‘Boxing Day’

It had been a very warm night, no need for heating, but it continued to rain on and off into the early hours. We awoke to blue sky and at last the sun had made a re-appearance. We had a bit of a longer lay in than usual and I got up to have a cigarette before getting washed and dressed. As I stood at the door, cigarette held outside the open slide down window, I saw ‘Steve & Fuddy’ outside (from Big Bird), he had ridden across from his apartment to come and see us, how nice was that. Mind you, the one morning we were not up and dressed !! We had a chat over a coffee and Steve told us that Lyssa was not too well and not due to the excesses of Christmas either !! ‘Big Bird’ will be back on the open road again as from Sunday so we wish them well on the continuance of their own ‘Big Adventure’

We were looking forward to being back ‘on the road’ again on Saturday so we were using the next two days of having ‘facilities’ to get the laundry all done and ensure all the ‘gismos’ were fully charged as we would be back to Wild Camping and using ‘Aires’ which meant that we would be reliant on Solar for all our ‘Power’ needs. However, the weather had not been the best over this festive period and what with the Christmas Day festivities we had felt a bit ‘couped’ up on the campsite so we decided to walk into the ‘old town’ and stretch our legs. Shazza made us some bacon rolls before we left, very nice !!

Boxing Day Breakfast at the Cafe 'Big Momma' !

Boxing Day Breakfast at the Cafe ‘Big Momma’ !

It was an easy stroll into the town from the campsite, turn left out of the gates and follow the ‘landscaped’ footpath (or cycle path) and half an hour later (or less if on a bicycle) you came to the centre square. All the shops, pavement cafés and Restaraunts were all open for business and not one single banner in a shop window announcing ‘Sale starts today’ !! We sat outside a beachfront cafe enjoying our ‘Cafe con Leche’, basking in the sunshine and watching the waves roll in and up the beach. This is what we had come here for after all, it was supposed to be the escape to the ‘winter sun’ and although Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was wet and windy, we had not experienced too much of the wet stuff on our travels in the grand scheme of things.

You may recall a previous post about the last time we visited Albufeira ? If I were to say ‘Pink Cap’ and ‘Vagrant’ that may jog your memory. Well, as we were sat enjoying our Coffee’s, who should we see sat on the wall opposite, yes that’s right ! However, he was ‘cap less’ and he did look across at Shazza, wearing her ‘Beige’ sun cap, and he smiled. I have never seen Shazza drink a coffee so quick ! She checked her head twice as we left to make sure that ‘cap’ was firmly on one’s head this time !!

So, as our attendance at our very first ‘rally’ draws to a close, the question we are asking ourselves is ‘Would we repeat the experience’ ? A lot of hard work goes into these events by the ‘Rally Stewards’, before the ‘campers’ arrive, during the event and after the attendees have all gone home. In the main though, and from my purely personal perspective you understand, they appear to cater really for the ‘less independent’ sort of traveller, people who like to turn up, park their caravans for several weeks, set out their awnings, festoon them with Christmas lights and decorations and enjoy a programme of events that have been organised for them. These events also suit those people who like to meet up in groups year after year, and their is nothing at all wrong with any of those things I have just mentioned. So in order to be able to answer our own question, we should really analyse whether it is ‘we’ that fit into the rally goers profile ? I, for example, am quite a social creature, not what one would call an ‘introvert’ or shy and retiring. I have been known to ‘occasionally’ talk to anyone and everyone, irrespective of their Nationality or indeed whether they can actually understand a single word that I am saying, and here I have a whole group of individuals gathered in one place who just conveniently happen to speak the same language, and as Shazza is quick to remind me, some are of a certain age whereby they are unable to start their mobility scooters fast enough to get away when they see me heading in their direction !! Some would say that Shazza can be anti-social and intolerant, but that is only on days of the week that contain a ‘Y’ in them and to be totally fair to her, she is not a discriminatory sort of person, she not only has an intolerance of babies, infants, teenagers and adults but she also has an intolerance of animals, mammals, birds and reptiles !! She, does however appear to get on quite well with ‘Dave’, ‘Kevin’ and that ‘Damn Duck’ !! The only reason that I am tolerated is that she doesn’t like driving ‘Big Momma’ and who else would get out of bed on a freezing cold morning, put the heating on and make her coffee ? I don’t fancy my chances very much when she discovers that someone has already invented a ‘remote control’ for the Central Heating and even an ‘Automated Coffee Making Machine’ !!

Shazza also likes to go to bed early and read her books in peace and quiet, even I have had to learn to suck crisps until they are soggy enough to chew !! Here on the ‘Rally Site’ we have people who, although they have hours of daylight in which to maintain their camping equipment, it would appear that some prefer to re-secure their awning pegs and hammer in their windbreak poles during the hours of darkness, which not only tends to sound like a bunch of demented woodpeckers out on the ‘piss’ but which then sets the dogs barking, the cats howling and the babies crying !! There is more peace and quiet sat on the front seats of a combined ‘Rolling Stones, Def Leppard and Led Zeppelin jam session !! So, ‘Would we repeat the rally experience again’ ? My mother always taught me to ‘never’ say ‘never’ !!

Friday 27th December

Our morning alarm went off at 08:15am, as it had every morning since we have been here, not the ‘Alarm Clock’ but the sound of the bins being emptied, the crash of bottles and dustbins being emptied into the back of a ‘pick-up’ truck, there is nothing quite like waking up naturally to greet a new day !! It must be time to move on as we are beginning to sound like a pair of whinging ‘old fuddy duddies’, the next thing will be complaining about the state of the UK, the failing this and the failing that. I can only be glad that we cannot get any UK Television News programmes otherwise I may even be sat in my chair screaming at the television screen !! No it is time to get back ‘on the road’ and to be thankful for being alive, retired well before our time and enjoying this opportunity to travel and see new places and cultures.

I think that Steve & Lyssa are telepathic, they knew we were going stir crazy and so sent us a text asking if we wanted to meet up for a beer. We pottered around, went to the ‘bar terrace’ to do our routine Email checks and download the latest News to read later in the van. There were a few advance ‘ready to move’ tasks that we could undertake to ensure a swift departure tomorrow, all the laundry was up to date, the electrical ‘gismos’ were re-charged, so now down to Albufeira to meet up with our friends ‘Steve & Lyssa’. We had been keeping in touch throughout our travels, theirs as well as ours, by text and of course we both had our blogs, but I have to say it was really good to see them both again, although we had seen Steve yesterday, the last time all four of us had got together was in Lagos at the beginning of the month. It was good to just meet up and ‘chew the fat’ over a couple of Coffee’s and Brandy, one as a post-Christmas toast and another as a pre-New Year toast, it would have been rude not to wouldn’t it ? Steve and Lyssa will themselves be ‘back on the road’ on Sunday in ‘Big Bird’, as we are heading North we are unlikely to meet up again until they return to the UK in the summer, although we will be keeping in touch between now and then. It was a great couple of hours so let’s hope the telepathy keeps tuned in, it may be our turn to rescue them !! It really is strange how friendships form, we hadn’t known Steve or Lyssa before we had our brief weekend meet at Wisbech just prior to our departure from the UK, we had kept in touch during our travels and only met up again at Lagos, so today was really only the third time we had all met again, yet they have become ‘soul mates’ as well as friends and long may that continue, and Steve can keep shaming me into keeping ‘Big Momma’  in tip top condition !

To absent friends !!

To absent friends !!

The heavens opened on our walk back to the Campsite but at least it was ‘warm’ rain, irrespective that it was just as wet as anywhere else !! So, another Christmas over, slightly different to the Christmas’s we had been used to and as we re-commence our travels tomorrow who knows where we will be celebrating the New Year………………………

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14 Responses to Our Initial Retirement Trip – Part Twenty Eight

  1. peakins2013 says:

    glad to see your having fun !! im still infamous with no less than 2 mentions AND my Christmas card in a photo !!!lol. been to chickenrun for Christmas to meet up with friends , now staying on motorhome park falicia (silves sister site ) near the beach ready for the sun tomorrow !!! bring it on , best wishes to you both
    Dee Tina and sophie dog xx

    • Just got WiFi after 6 days !! So a belated Happy New Year to you. Currently just outside Porto on an Aire at a Biopark !! Wonderful, includes 16amp electric and access to the park, well worth a visit ! The bus stops outside for the half hour ride to Porto so probably going there tomorrow. Glad you are enjoying yourselves, I need some time to download ‘lots’ of photo’s for the blog but should be publishing at least 3 very soon !!

  2. Steve&Lys says:

    Thanks for your kind words, have a safe trip’ Up North ‘ fingers crossed with the temperatures ??
    Stay safe and keep warm
    Steve & Lys xx

  3. Paul says:

    Glad it went well and you enjoyed your first rally. We”ve never attended one either, and like you I”d be a bit unsure. The wife”s the more chatty and I”m the quieter one and I”m a bit more independant, tho” we always make friends when we travel. At least you”re away from the storms that have lashed the UK, not good for some poor people with flooded homes and no power, I moved our RV away from the trees at the back of our house just in case, tho” it”s quieter today..! We”re on the Belfast-Birkenhead boat this eve, (spending new year back home in Cheltenham) hope to God it stays calm. Have a coffee and brandy for me, cheers. 🙂

    • Not sure that we would do another rally ! We prefer the more independent approach but they do serve a purpose for those who like that sort of thing. Belated ‘New Year’ wishes, just got WiFi after 6 days without !! More blog posts on their way very soon !!

  4. Ste T says:

    You’d better get used to being kept awake/woken up by campers dumping their bottles and rubbish, “picnicking” and socialising to the late hours if you’re coming home to work on a campsite! Take it from me even BM will become invisible to them! Happy New Year and may it bring all your little hearts desire! If you get time before commencing paid employment in the UK, and are up in the “grim North” we start at Delamere Forest on the 22nd of Feb. Let me know using a pm through “365” or e-mail and we’ll arrange a “drop in date”!

    • There is a difference when you are a client I think !! Ha ha lol.

      once we have done the Assessment Centre we have 6 weeks before the Induction so we will be doing some touring in UK so may pop in to see you !!

      Happy New Year to you, hope you had a good one !

  5. Debs says:

    Glad you both had a good Christmas great photos :-)l look forward to hearing about New Year and where you will be……… have a fun one 🙂

  6. Chris and Brian aka Destination Unknown says:

    Hi Eric finally got to the end of your blog. Fantastic what a time you are having. We shall be in Portugal but it will be the end of March. Reading your blog stirred me into writing my journal so no 20 is on its way. Loved all you have done and it sure did remind me of our last visit to Portugal just hope our 2nd visit is just as good. Will be visiting the aire at Portimao as our friends Tom and Maria are there in their Monaco and am sure will stay a week or so. We don’t have to be back in blighty till end of May. Hopefully we can catch up with you both somewhere sometime but until then HAPPY NEW YEAR and enjoy joy your new life……its not a rehersal… Destination Unknown aka brian and chris

    • Happy New Year to you both !! Just got WiFi again so yee hah ! 3 more posts on their way soon, look forward to meeting you both somewhere. Currently just outside Porto, weather has been atrocious over the last few days, wish we were still down the Algarve :0(

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