Barragem de Arade – Silves – Alvor (25 miles)
On our first day at the Barragem, and unusually for me, I was not my usual sociable self because of the back pain, although from the comfort of my invalid chair I had chatted with both sets of neighbours. However, feeling much better by day two I was back into ‘verbal diarrhoea‘ mode and so had got to know our fellow ‘Wild Campers’ so much better. So it is only right that I should no longer refer to them as our two ‘Dutch’ neighbours. ‘Corn (short for Cornelius) and Carla‘ we’re not ‘Fulltimers’, they still had a house in the Netherlands, which they would be returning to in December, but they planned to be back ‘on the road’ again in February. Like us, and many others who do this, they had a road map on which there were numerous handwritten notes, location of Aires and Wildcamping places, and locations of fuel and LPG services.
We compared ‘maps’ and exchanged information with each other on places that were missing from each of our respective maps. ‘Dennis and Leo‘ on the other hand were young ‘free spirits’ and they were fulltiming, albeit that ‘Leo’, Dennis’s girlfriend, had only joined him on his travels during the last three weeks. By some of the questions that they asked they appeared to be inexperienced at living in a Motorhome, Fulltime or otherwise. They had a map, and a second-hand ‘Sat Nav’ that someone had given them, although Dennis was not conversant with inputting GPS co-ordinates. They had no information on the locations of Aires’, they were ‘wild camping’ to the very meaning of the word, although I am not sure that this was by freedom of choice or just lack of knowledge of what information there actually was available to them. When I informed them that they could ‘empty and fill‘ their on-board facilities for ‘free‘ from an Aire just a few miles away they seemed totally and genuinely flabbergasted and were more than grateful when I gave them the GPS co-ordinates, and showed Dennis how to input them into his ‘Sat Nav’.When I told them about the Motorhome Aire at ‘Silves’, again just a few miles down the road which had Motorhome Services, their own individual pitch, Electricity Bollard and a fresh water tap and WiFi all for €6 their eyes lit up and it was icing on the cake when I told them that there was also ‘Laundry’ facilities on site for €3.50, a large ‘Supermarket’ within a hundred metres ‘or so’ and the local town just a ten-minute stroll. Dennis and Leo were not short of money, they were just ‘free spirits’ enjoying what nature provided for free, places to park up for a few nights or Barragems to swim and bathe in, and why not !! When Dennis asked if I could give him a list of some of these Aires I was only to pleased to assist, we had a ‘spare’ copy of the list of ‘Aires’ we had printed off from http://www.campingcarportugal.com and so we gave this to them. To see both their faces light up, I am unable to describe just how genuinely grateful they were, but it felt really good to be able to help this very nice young couple and to see the excitement of having this information when ‘Leo’ went straight into their van and started looking at locations on the map.
Shazza and I had always planned to re-visit the ‘Motorhome Park‘ at ‘Silves‘, one of our favourites from last year, and as it was only seven miles away it was logical to make that our next port of call. However, we also discovered that ‘Corne and Carla’ were headed for ‘Silves’, although they would be staying at the ‘free’ parking area and not on the ‘Motorhome Park’. ‘Dennis and Leo’ had asked if they could follow us to the ‘Motorhome Park’ as they wanted to do ‘laundry’, which included bedding, easier to do in a washing machine, and Dennis, who didn’t have ‘Solar Panels’, also wanted EHU to charge up his Laptop. They also needed to re-stock on provisions, so with a supermarket virtually next door, this was a perfect place for them to get everything done that they needed. So being the true ‘free spirits’ that they are, they would pay to stay on the Motorhome Park for one night, complete their laundry, re-stock with provisions and then before leaving will have re-charged all their electrical ‘gadgets’ and done all the ‘necessary’ with their on-board facilities before re-locating to the ‘free parking’ area just down the road, can’t fault it really.
One of the many good reasons for going to ‘Silves’ was for the WiFi, ever since upgrading my iPad with the latest IOS 8 software I have had problems with my ‘keyboard’ when using the ‘Blog Pad Pro’ Application, this is the ‘App’ that allows me to draft my ‘WordPress’ blog posts when I am off-line. Apple have had a lot of problems with the new software upgrade and have issued another upgrade to fix the issues, hopefully this will also resolve my keyboard issues ! However it takes a long time to download and install so I needed a reliable Internet connection.
You may recall, in previous posts, that I have often used that word ‘flexibility’ when referring to aspects of this ‘fulltiming’ lifestyle. I had looked forward to being at ‘Silves’ for at least a day or three !! Steve, (Big Bird) best you avert your eyes NOW !! As well as the lure of the WiFi, the EHU and the Supermarkets, the van has not been cleaned in nearly forty-two days and is looking more than a bit grubby, so as there are no issues with washing vans at Silves, I was looking forward to spending some ‘quality time’ getting ‘down and dirty‘ with a ‘Big Momma’. I had not anticipated such a short visit, the WiFi was not good, at best it was intermittent, I could see the ‘Wireless’ signal on my iBoost device but instead of it asking me for the password, which I had, it was asking me to insert a WPA key, which I didn’t have !! Whilst I could ‘connect‘ my iPad to the ‘wireless’ signal without using the iBoost, Shazza couldn’t connect at all. This was not good, so Shazza came up with a ‘cunning plan‘, if we spent the night at Silves, then went back to the ‘Aire’ at Alvor, she knew that one of the harbour side Cafe/Bars provided excellent and fast WiFi, then we could update the ‘gadgets’ and return to Silves later. I suspected that this cunning plan may also have just had something to do with a weather forecast that showed the next two days were going to be hot and sunny, which in Shazza terminology meant ‘beach, solar basting and swimming in the sea‘ !!
As we were leaving Silves the following morning we called by the pitch that ‘Dennis and Leo’ were on, to say our farewells and wish them safe travels. It didn’t surprise me to find that they had connected their hose pipe to the pitch water tap and Leo was giving Dennis a cold water shower !! Whilst we were saying farewell to them I recognised a voice calling out to me, when I looked around it was ‘Dennis and Janine‘, the couple from New Zealand that we had met whilst on our cliff top perch at ‘Porto Covo’. We had a brief catch-up chat, well it would have been rude not to, before finally setting off on our short fifteen mile journey to Alvor.
It was the 30th October, we had last refueled ‘Big Momma’ on 2nd October and just three miles from Alvor our low fuel warning light came on. This was quite fortuitous really as on our way back to Silves, in a couple of days time, there was a handy ‘GALP’ service station where we could refuel with ‘Diesel’ as well as top up the LPG. Roy (Twernt on Tour), who we had kept in touch with via SKYPE Text, commented that the Alvor Aire was becoming an ‘Eric and Shazza‘ magnet, and as if to reinforce his point, when we pulled on to the Aire and parked up, the man who collects the parking fee turned up at the van, receipt already completed with our vehicle details and our name !!
It was another superbly hot day, so after getting ‘Big Momma’ transformed into ‘home’ mode once more, it was into beach wear and Shazza was off like a ‘robbers dog‘ to the sea !
You could tell that the holiday season was in its last weekend, the beach, compared to our previous visits, was nearly empty, they were beginning to remove the wooden board walks from the sand and the town was beginning to get very much quieter. The ‘Kite Surfers’ we’re now coming out to play, with no hoards of ‘solar boasters’ to get in their way, although they hadn’t accounted for Shazza !!
After a good couple of hours on the beach it was nearly ‘that’ time again, the one where we sit outside in the afternoon sunshine with a few ‘nibbles’ and a glass or three of ‘Vino Calapso’. We knew that we would be spending a good few hours at the Cafe/Bar later that evening, these software upgrades took hours to download and install, even on a pretty reasonable WiFi connection !! We didn’t think that we could sit there with just one cup of coffee each all night, and when I say all night, this place was open until 03:00am !! So we decided that we would not feel so guilty if we were to eat there as well as this would help stretch out the time.
We walked in the warm evening air the short distance to the ‘Cafe Nia‘, there were not many people inside so we had our choice of table. We elected to sit inside by the big open windows and had a grand view of the boats in the harbour with the lights of ‘Lagos’ twinkling away on the horizon.
We set the software downloads running on Shazza’s iPad and iPhone and just on my iPhone, as I had managed to do my iPad a few days earlier. To our horror the message came up ‘Estimated Time Remaining 10 hours’ !! We hadn’t planned on a six course banquet ! When the waiter came across to our table we decided to stall for a bit of extra time, we told him that we would have two coffees whilst we decided what to eat from the menu. When we couldn’t stall any longer we ordered our ‘Main Course’, a starter would have given us a little extra time but neither of us was that hungry. Main course eaten, ‘Estimated Time Remaining 7 hours‘, well that three hours went quickly ! If the next seven go as quick we may get away before having to think about ordering breakfast as well. To stall for even more time we then decided, before ordering Desserts, to order a rather large jug of ‘Sangria’. All was going well, the devices stated ‘Estimated Time Remaining 5 hours‘, that was all except for Shazza’s iPhone, for some inexplicable reason her iPhone reflected ‘Connection Lost, Download Cannot Be Completed‘ !! She restarted it, thinking that perhaps it would go to where it had left off, well you would have thought so wouldn’t you but…..’Estimated Time Remaining 10 hours‘, in the words of Victor Meldrew, “I don’t bloody believe it” !! We decided to leave her phone update for another day.
Sangria jug empty, the waiter moved in and we had no option, Desserts were duly ordered. We ate them so slowly that it was difficult for even us to establish whether our jaws were actually moving ! We glanced at our respective devices, ‘Estimated Time Remaining 7 hours‘ !! We looked at each other in horror, how can it jump from 5 to 7 hours, we were both stuffed and couldn’t force another bit of food in so we needed to devise another cunning plan to play for more time. I jokingly said that we could always work our way down through the rather comprehensive ‘Cocktails List’. Doh !! Sometimes me and my big mouth. I elected to try a ‘Zombie‘, Shazza’s eyes lit up and she said that she rather fancied ‘Sex On The Beach‘ but then laughed wickedly as she said “But I want something that would last longer than two minutes” !! So she decided on an ‘Orgasm by the river’ !!
I am not really one for Cocktails but my ‘Zombie’ was actually rather pleasant, strong but pleasant. As for the look on Sharon’s face as she ‘slurped’ away on hers, I would hazard a guess that it was living up to its name !! We looked at our devices through rapidly blurring eyes, ‘Estimated Time Remaining 2 hours‘. The waiter glanced across and for some unknown reason I heard myself saying “Same Again” !! Oh dear, this could end up getting very messy.
The second problem occurred after the software had downloaded, but this time on my iPhone, a message stated ‘50% Battery Power Is Required, Please Plug In To A Mains Power Source‘, I had come out with my phone 90% charged, surely that should have been enough, well at least the next time I do connect I won’t have to start from the beginning. To be honest, and I cannot for the life of me think why, but I couldn’t care less !! I don’t know why we ordered two coffees to finish off but we did. I only know that we did make it back to ‘Big Momma’ because in the morning I did wake up in my own bed !! In my more youthful days though, when I ‘occasionally’ got into a similar state, a ‘Gorilla’ would always follow me home, wait until I was asleep and then steal all the money I had in my wallet, throw my clothes all around the bedroom and then ‘urinate’ in the wardrobe !! Thankfully, on this occasion a Gorilla didn’t follow us back to ‘Big Momma’ !!!
Shazza had a recovery day on the beach, I had a recovery day on the sun chair outside ‘Big Momma’, other residents told me later that they could hear soulful sounds coming from the direction of our van, they couldn’t be sure but they said it sounded like someone saying, “Never Again“, over and over and over again.
We returned to the scene of the crime later that evening, in disguise of course, and completed the necessary ‘actions’ on our iPhones, let’s just say it was a much more subdued affair than the previous night and the strong coffee was wonderful !!