Sheltering from Windy Weather!

We left Camping La Aldea on the 29th January at about 10.30am, I am proud to report the neighbours didn’t hold my “faux Pas” against me and did chat to us, they were a lovely couple also from the UK on their first 3 week trip abroad in their van, they told us how they had learnt so much about travelling abroad and how they had been caught out in the snow crossing the mountains, and that they had never seen so much of the stuff, there were metres of it, and how it’d really scared them driving in such conditions but they managed to get through, albeit nervously and they were now having a great time, they also told us how they were having some gearbox trouble and their van wouldn’t go into 3rd gear, all this after having a new gearbox and clutch just weeks before their travels. They had rung the garage and will limp it home to them next week, Pete did tell them it sounded like a simple linkage problem so hopefully it’s nothing too major for the garage to sort out for them…

Our journey was a fraught one today with very strong side winds, driving a high sided vehicle in side winds is not a fun or enjoyable thing… making the journey slightly nerve wracking as getting side whipped by strong winds can be a handful…

We had planned to go to a motorhome aire but to be honest when we got there nearly 4 hours later the place looked pretty scruffy, Pete looked for somewhere to park while I filled the water tank, but when he reported back it wasn’t quite what we’d expected and neither of us were really keen to stay… so cheekily we drove straight back out with a full tank of water, we felt pretty cheeky to be fair but their wasn’t any staff available so we couldn’t even offer to pay for the water, plus the site had one grubby looking toilet cubicle between approx 50 motorhomes, we didn’t even bother checking the shower cubicle, we were then told by a fellow camper that there was also a problem with the electrics on site and you would be lucky to get 3 amps, we had heard and seen enough for our liking, so off we set using our back up plan to a camp called La Rosaleda, in Conil du la Frontera, but first we planned to visit a garage that sold LPG at the pump to refill our gaslow bottles with gas, so armed again with coords, off we set only to come to a full stop and being forced to turn back on the journey by the fact that the town the garage was located in was now only accessible via tram!!! So after leaving the town off we set again towards the campsite, we shall look for LPG another day we will be ok for a while we still have an 11kg tank almost full on board so it’s not too urgent yet…

It took us a further hour and 30 minutes to get to the next stop after wasting another 30 minutes looking for the gas so we pulled into the campsite at nearly 5pm tired and hungry… We’d been on the road in strong winds for about 6 hrs…

The high winds have kept up and the vans taking a pounding, we are sat in the campsite at present with a view of the Atlantic sea in the far off distance and you can see just how stormy it is out there and just how choppy the waves are from here a couple of miles away, not a day for swimming in the sea I guess… So Pete found some exercise equipment instead to keep himself fit!

The storm has started to subside here finally after 2 or 3 days of strong gusty winds, we have one more night here before we move on, the campsite is fairly busy and pleasant enough but the pitches that were available to us are a little short for our vehicle to fit in and not in the most attractive part of the site, all the bigger longer pitches having already been snatched up, so our front end is just on the edge of the pitch and the lack of pitch length has made it nigh on impossible for us to level up so we are off skew level wise, which in turn gives you what I call the sea legs experience and sometimes issues with the gas appliances, the pitch that reception originally gave us we found to be unsuitable due to the fact there were three trees planted randomly, all with low branches spreading out all over the pitch and us being over 3 metres tall means we don’t mix well with lower trees and branches (perhaps the site needs to hire a tree surgeon, the trees haven’t been pruned in some yrs looking at them and a neighbouring caravan called wardens up to prune back a tree that was already causing damage to his vehicle) we then looked around the site at a few pitches which I pointed out would also be tricky to manuevour into due to concrete walls and again low overhanging tree branches, finally we found another pitch where the trees weren’t so much of a problem, we had to reverse in into it whilst now getting fairly close with the over head cab to some overhanging metal fence posts, Pete hadn’t even realised they were there and to be fair it’s hard to see this sort of thing from inside the cab, I managed to stop him just in time and pointed them out, otherwise we would have taken some damage from them if we hadn’t have been careful… Some campsites seem more like obstacle courses…

 

 

Finally we were tucked snugly into the pitch (just) Pete stood outside for a good 15 minutes looking at the situation whilst scratching at his manly beard… I could tell he wasn’t happy about the pitch and more unhappy about not being level, but by then I’d had enough we were pitched and that was that!!! I must admit some campsites with lots of concrete structures low hanging branches and their designs with sharp looking sticking out fence posts do make me scratch my head a little…

The campsite itself is well kept and the facilities spotless, it has free WiFi that has a pretty good signal, and I have heard of these but it’s the first time we have come across them… timed showers! You have 7 minutes of hot water and then if that is not adequate you have to wait 5 minutes before hot water becomes available again, the campsite is €17 per night with 4kw electric free per day any electric used over that amount must be paid for as extra.  The site has some lovely looking chalets which are priced pretty reasonably, a lovely looking pool but sadly out of season and closed, entrance to the site also looks good with good access.

We went food shopping on the bikes and hiked back with the shopping in tow in the doggyhut I almost got blown off my bike several times it was just so windy, but we then had food and we could chill out for the evening, I made 4 jars of strawberry jam that evening while we were waiting for the storm outside to subside… The next day I cycled back to the shop to get items I had forgotten the first time around and more importantly to replenish the beer and wine stock which we had drank the night before waiting for the storm to pass!!! We move on again tomorrow…

Hopefully we will have something a bit more interesting to report back on at our next stop…

Take care

Donna x

GPS Coords Camping Rosaleda N36.29343  W6.095417  €17pn + any extra electric costs

 

Wild west town of El Rocio

 

We are at Camping La Aldea in Andalucia where we are booked in for 3 nights, so we thought we better check out the place whilst we we’re here… we took a walk on the Saturday mid morning to go sightsee in the town of El Rocio which is just minutes away from the campsite, and boy, were we in for a treat, what a town, it was like walking into the film set of a wild west movie, there were horses and carts everywhere you looked, it really was something else…

 

 

We must have timed this visit just right as while we were there the place was just getting busier and busier, and after a couple of hrs of wandering this town and its streets (where there are often horses tied up on hitching posts resting just like in the Western movies) it was soon time for us to leave, poor Toffi was afraid of being trampled and the place was just getting busier and busier with this air of excitement and wildness about it, the people and horse riders were amazing and all were very friendly and welcoming, I often asked those sat still on their horseback if I may take their picture of which they all agreed with a friendly smile and a pose, their horses are fantastic and clearly well loved and well cared for…  most definitely a place to add to the visit list at this time of year if you’re near the area, we had no idea the place even existed but we are so glad we found it!!

Apparently this is the weekend (27th Jan) of Gala Siente El Rocio, which is one of their traditional celebrations here, so looks like we just timed it all good to get to see it, tonight they will have traditional Spanish music with Flamenco dancing and the celebrations carry on until the early hours…

 

I think I could have taken photos of these people and their animals all day, it was a fabulous sight to see, many different types of horses, mules and even some donkeys all being displayed and shown off by their proud owners…

What a wonderful day we have had felt the need to share it with you all…

Until next time enjoy & take care

Donna x

La Aldea N37°8’29” W6°29’26” €19 pn

 

1st Impressions…

We stayed at the aire (we had found in desperation) for 2 days, this was  after the campsites we had planned to stay at were found to be full, the aire really wasn’t much to go on, it was just a concrete carpark with some pretty dire services (even water wasn’t available from the 2nd evening onwards even though we had paid for it!) it actually worked out at about €10 a night with the extra costs of electric, emptying black and grey waste, dire looking shower facilities and non existent water refilling etc so I won’t bother with the coords for it as it really wasn’t worth the money and I wouldn’t encourage anyone to visit, it’s just we needed to make repairs (new water pump and a flat tire on one of  the bikes) and by the time we found the aire it was actually starting to get very late in the day with the sun going down and we were running pretty low on options…

We left on the morning of the 24th and we were finally headed back for Spain, we needed to avoid the A22 toll road as Portugal is pretty awkward when it comes to transportation and foreign motorists on toll roads, you need to get a tag or register at the nearest PO or another shop registered as point of sale for automatic payment, otherwise you get fined and although getting this tag is doable, it was awkward for us and would have worked out costly for the amount of use we would have gained, so we’d already decided to avoid the tolls before we’d even got to Portugal, however this can be pretty tricky at times but we made it… I set the sat nav to motorways or roads with no tolls and she (the sat nav) came up with a 200 mile round trip (the thing totally ignored the N125 route and refused to acknowledge it as you have to join the A22 right at the end), although Pete knew that if we took the N125 we would eventually get to Spain…I however was totally lost, and the woman who resides inside our satnav had much bigger and apparently much better plans for us and was screaming throughout the whole journey for us to turn back around…

We made it to Spain many hrs later having navigated almost the entire length of the Algarve avoiding all toll roads (no thanks to the satnav), and our next stop was not too far from the border about 20 miles or so, the site was called camping Taray and to be honest my first impression once inside the campsite wasn’t one of joy, it was of a shanty town of long term stayers with lots of scrappy looking blue tarpaulins hitched over dirty looking caravans that just gave a scruffy impression and such, but to be fair the staff were really friendly, the site was secure and facilities clean, the site was only €11 a night, so, we set up and then decided to take a look around the area, to Toffi’s sheer delight we wandered through a small wooded area following a great looking slabbed pathway to find the most amazingly huge and empty beach!!!! Then the batteries in the camera died… Typical…

 

The next day it rained on and off for much of the day, Toffi was reluctant to leave the warmth and comfort of the van, so we took the time to chill and relax inside watching TV and arguing over where to go next, Pete was up for some more wild camping to save on some penny’s plus he had jotted down some coords of places he had read about on search for sites and he wanted us to try them out, but when we looked closer via Google earth it became pretty apparent that these places would only really be suitable for much smaller vehicles or simply that they were just not suitable for us, so I was adamant we would not be going there, much to Pete’s disappointment… I have no problem with wild camping but I do insist on checking out the places well to ensure suitability, safety and ensure us also not to be a problem to locals etc…

On our journey and not far from the next campsite that we were travelling too, we had 2 fire engines and their crews who were looking over at the motorhome while travelling on an adjacent road, they soon noticed that I had noticed them also, and they started a little waving competition between them and myself, hilariously this almost resulted in Pete taking a wrong turn… due to me his navigator, being ever so slightly distracted!!!

We decided on our next stop camping La Aldea but it’s quite an expensive site for us at €19 a night, I did suggest we only stay perhaps overnight before moving on but Pete’s booked us in for 3 nights, I must admit it is quite a nice site though so I didn’t mind, the pitches are a pretty good size and again the staff friendly and the facilities are good, there’s a very nice bar/restaurant just outside the site that we visited today for a drink…

We arrived here at midday and got ourselves settled nicely into our pitch, we’d not had much to eat all day so I decided we seriously needed a big meal, so I thoughtfully cooked us up some meat and roasted up what I could salvage of our sad looking bag of potatoes, boiled up some veg to go with it, then once I had dished it all up onto plates, I promptly dropped the roasting pan full of hot cooking oil all over the place, forgetting our windows were wide open I expelled a rather naughty word… quite loudly, I straight away noticed the neighbours (who at the time were all mid conversation amongst themselves) quieten in shock of what they had overheard… Oups… I guess I may have set the standard for the next few days… I could already imagine their horror when we arrived some scruffy looking grey haired woman covered in tattoos and with a feisty bull terrier in tow and now this… great, 1st impressions and all that… The neighbours must now feel real lucky having us near them!!! Wonder if they speak to us the rest of our stay? I’ll update you all later on that one…

Till next time folks remember never judge a book by its cover… Well… so to speak… at least let them open their mouths and fully embarrass themselves first!!!

Take care

Donna x

Playa Taray N37°12’21” W7°15’55” €11 pn

La Aldea N37°8’29” W6°29’26” €19 pn

Wild Sagres Waves & Wild Camping

We finally left our little peace of heaven at Salema on the 18th January, we were pleasantly surprised at our final bill which at advertised rates we had worked out at €474.70 but the staff there are great and they compare all rates including their own off season rates and the bill came to just €414.80 for the 40 nights, which worked out at just €10.37 per night priced for 2 people in a motorhome, 1 dog, electric, water, washing facilities, absolutely fantastic value…
We had a slight hiccup leaving this site as it’s a very steep exit with twisty hairpin bends that you need maneuver around to get out, if you are in a taller motorhome this is the only exit/entry way available due to height restrictions and barriers (there is an easier way in for the smaller sized vehicles) but there just so happened to be a car parked right in our way on our way out which hindered our exit… With a few giggles and tight moments we made it out safely, trying to reverse or maneuver with this trailer on the back is nigh on impossible it loves to jack knife… but we made it out safely… Just!!!
We had suggested to our new friend Fabian to come up and grab the pitch the night before we left as some other campers had taken offence to his dog Beau AKA Gumbo and with this pitch being slightly out of the way we thought this may be a solution for them, so they came and settled in on our last night there, but the morning after we left I felt rather guilty as I was so busy sorting things out ready to move I’d put a small bin bag outside ready to put into the garage then drop off at the next bin, but I then got sidetracked helping to reverse us out and putting things in place so that no one got Fabian’s spot who by that time had gone off to the beach, I then helped to move and hook the trailer up, and I forgot to pick the bag up, I didn’t notice until I got to the bins at Sagres to put the stuff in, that we didn’t have it on board, so Fabian if your reading this my sincere apologies it wasn’t done on purpose!! We wish you and Beau safe and happy travels…

 


I finally managed to persuade Pete to have a go at a wildcamp, I had specifically chosen Sagres for the first wild camp and fully checked it out using Google earth etc and chose it because we could see it was large enough for the motorhome plus trailer and easy access to and from there, so off we drove down to Sagres it was just 15km away, we had been told that the sunsets were amazing here and it certainly didn’t disappoint as the photos show, when we got here we were surprised just how busy the small town was with motorhomes and campers everywhere hopefully bringing business with them, we had hoped the bike shop that we had also spotted on Google earth would be open so we could get a puncture repair kit etc but when we got here it looks like the bike shop is no longer open for business, but we did find a hardware shop and managed to purchase a puncture kit from there instead. There are lots of surf shops, cafes, bars and restaurants in the area, I managed to find a jazzy little hairband in one of the surf shops to help keep my annoying hair under a little bit of control, I also bought a lovely wooly hat for wearing when walking the cliffs tops and also a Sagres T-shirt with a picture of a campervan and the Moto “life is just a trip” printed on it… So I was spoilt and it also meant that while we were getting a free camp here we were also still putting money into the local economy, everyone wins…

 


We settled in amongst about 20+ other motorhomes and camper vans, then took a stroll to the fort, the place was pretty impressive with a lovely quaint chapel within, also inside the fort walls there’s a pathway that takes you all around the cliff edge, it took a good hour or so to walk around, locals were fishing from the cliffs here although I didn’t spot any of them landing anything!!! We wondered what type of fish they were after would it have been for cod perhaps?? I foolishly managed to delete all photos we took inside the fort so here’s one of the motorhome and a few showing how wonderful the waves are here…

 

While walking through the fort ground area we noticed a noise coming up through the rocky floor we went off the beaten path to explore and investigate, I got the shock of a lifetime… Due to our lack of knowledge we hadn’t realised that where we were on the cliffs we were actually walking above a sea cave system below us, so while investigating the noise that we could hear… the rock I was actually standing upon on started hissing with pressurised air and sea spray escaping and seeping out at me at quite a rate up through the cracks in the granite rock, this pressure was as we now know due to those ferocious waves crashing around inside the caves system below (but I’ve got to say I have never moved so fast, it scared the living daylights out of me, I wasn’t sure if it was all going to give way underfoot and I’d find myself tumbling through into the wild waves below me!!) further along the walk there is a concrete structure called a sound hole that is above another of these crevices and it has been designed to capture and magnify the sounds and boy it certainly does just that… to hear this sound of the angry, powerful Atlantic sea waves crashing in is something very special and somewhat scary all at the same time!!! The place is certainly worth the €3 entry fee each and I would certainly suggest a visit for sure!! We also met and chatted with a Russian lady named Laura who has promised to show us around Russia if we ever make it there!!

 

 


We managed our 1st night of wild camping here in Sagres and Pete has suggested we stay here till we have to take Toffi to the vets on the 22nd (I think we have a convert as Pete is now looking out at other wild camping places there’s also one that is on the side of town with another fantastic view out to sea) but our plan is to stay here just because it was refreshing and it’s a pretty cool place to be, listening to the ocean battering against the cliffs, with the cool, or sometimes at least warmish winds buffering against us, plus it’s free, there is an offer at the intermarche for motor homers, so with every €30 you spend you can claim a token from the petrol station and this token allows you to empty out black and grey water waste and refill with water at no charge which is a stonkingly good offer… and which of course we took them up on as by then we needed to empty and refill…

We’ve had an amazing time here Sagres is certainly a nice popular place and Toffi has really enjoyed herself here…

 

It soon came to our leaving day, we have had a very busy day, firstly driving Toffi to the vets in and through Portimao and trying to park the MH in small car parks designed for little car like vehicles (a stressful time in itself) but we managed, we had got there earlier than expected so had some time to kill, we chilled with a coffee and took a small walk around before the poor pup had her visit to the vets which I might say was also pretty eventful, especially once it got to the Kennel cough inoculation… where it more or less took 5 of us holding her down to get it into her, the poor vets tried every trick they had but she was stressed and outwitted us all each time, we left the vets €110 euros lighter and headed straight to the pet shop next door where Toffi then got a couple of new toys, a soft harness and some treats which left us another €50 lighter…

We got back to the van and thought we had got a ticket but unlike the UK it was a ticket requesting us to pay the going rate of €3.50, we had checked before we parked but couldn’t quite understand what the  ticket machines said so it was fair enough…

we then had to drive to Camperserve and purchase a new water pump as ours is starting to leak we noticed during the week… (why they put a Motorhome repair place down a tiny lane I will never figure out, after another motorhome nearly hit us then a car nearly having a scrape with us we managed to get clear of there another €180 lighter again as we had a couple of other purchases to make also, and although we had planned a few campsites we have ended up on an aire for €6 plus costs for water and emptying, but after such an expensive day we needed to recoup some savings, plus we had gone to one of the sites we had planned to visit but it was so jam packed, there was just enough room for us to turn right around a small roundabout just inside the site and head straight back out of there… and we had passed another that was also jam packed but luckily we had seen this aire from the road so guess we will just park here for a night or two get some repairs done and decide where to go from there…

Enjoy the pictures

Take care

Donna x

Sagres Wild camp GPS N37°0’17”  W8°56’42”

Atlantic waves at Figueira Beach

We took a fair old walk to Figueira Beach yesterday what another amazing place, a small fairly secluded beach found only after heading down a road then off to trail path leading away from the town, through some marsh land complete with reed beds and over a small stream, we failed to take a camera with us and the only thing we had was Pete’s half charged smartphone which would you believe it, the battery went and died after just a few photos of the small town and just as we arrived at the beach, we passed a few people walking their dogs along the trail and bumped into Gumbo AKA Beau and his owner Fabiàn who were also out enjoying a stroll to the same beach, after a small chat we meandered along to find this beach, we could hear the thunderous sound of crashing waves before we were anywhere near the beach, the amazing sound of heavy powerful waves coming in from the Atlantic Sea… what a stunning small isolated little sandy beach it was,  and as we had passed all the dog walkers walking in the opposite direction we realised we had the beach to ourselves just for a little while, so again Toffi got to enjoy running along the sand covered beach and trying to retrieve her stick before the ferocious waves came crashing down towards her…

 

 

To get to this beach we had to walk a couple of miles to the small village of Figueira so we thought we would check out the campsite situated there that we had seen advertised along the way, we were glad we had chosen Salema instead as it was just like a carpark for motorhomes which were literally parked side by side, and it was pretty busy which is lovely if you are a very social person (unlike myself!!) and if you like to kiss your neighbours goodnight and good morning, but I have to say I was less than impressed not only this, but the fire risk to all the vehicles and people in this place would have been extremely high with everyone parked so very close to each other, if one had gone up in flames the rest more than likely would have too… it was also a very awkward entrance to this site, along our walk we met someone who was staying there and while chatting he told us to make matters worse, someone had now placed a skip along the entrance road making it even more awkward, so they were now stuck there until the skip gets removed as it’s already a bit of a tight squeeze through for larger vehicles even without the skip being there!! Poor chap although he seemed happy enough and filled with drink so all was well in his world… the town itself had some abandoned and run down buildings with roofs missing but the rest was a nice looking little village with a few restaurants and bars amongst it….

 

There was a very run down small shanty town shack just outside of the campsite which upon closer inspection surprisingly had a mailbox attached… so someone was actually living in what was no more than a blue run down hut with a chicken wired enclosed run for their chickens etc this was just outside the entrance to the site… It certainly shows you the other side to life… as during the walk to the beach there was a house for sale the man from the campsite that had stopped to chat with us, told us it was up for sale at €400k… the house wasn’t even anything special but came complete with a rocky hillside and I guess you get an address in the Algarve!…

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Picture taken just outside the other campsite we looked at out of curiosity, someone is living in that blue shanty town hut with an area for chickens just off to the side…

It’s now been over 4 months since my last haircut and I made sure my hair was really cut short then, and it’s been much longer in time since I last coloured my hair so I am totally grey in colour now, but my hair seems to be growing so fast, at least an inch a month what was a fringe is now down past my nose, so I now have about 4 options either I wear a hat constantly, I find a hairdresser real soon, shave my head or grow long grey dreadlocks… I am pretty sure me cutting my own hair will just end in total disaster so I have already ruled this out!!

You sometimes get homesick while travelling missing family and friends that you haven’t seen for a while, missing small toddlers and their achievements and then we’ve had a few close friends who have sadly had losses of their close loved ones lately, and it brings it home that you haven’t been able to be there for any of them in their times of need… We have managed to briefly catch up with a few friends and family via texts/messaging or facetime this week though which was nice…

We plan on going to Sagres just for an overnight wild camp in the aire there it’s only 10 minutes drive from here, there’s an old fort/chapel on the end of the cliff top with a couple of beaches there to visit, plus the sunset is supposed to be amazing there… also there’s a Bicycle shop nearby where hopefully if it’s open we can buy a puncture kit or if needed a new inner tube for Pete’s bike, there’s also an intermarche there so we will be able to get all our shopping done and be fully topped up with things without hauling it back to the motorhome on the back of a bike in the doggyhut… It’s the little things in life…

The weather warnings from last week all seem to have dissipated and thanks to our friends Anna and David who are currently in Malaga we are assured it is bright sunshine now there in Spain and their pictures through whatsapp are proving this and making us jealous we haven’t moved off faster… so we intend on leaving here on the 18th going quickly to Sagres, and from here we will either go to another wild spot just 10 minutes further from Sagres at Cape St Vincent or we have 3 other campsites on our way back to Spain, we are considering Alvor, Silves and Mikkis campsites, the dog is due her annual vaccination boosters on the 27th which is a pain as we were hoping to catch back up with our friends again before then, but there is an animal hospital in Portimao (near where the Alvor campsite is situated) and this vets should be able to deal with her boosters and the paperwork to ensure her passport is kept up to date so we shall have to zoom on up to catch up with Ann and David at a later date before they leave again in mid March…

We’ve had blue skies and fantastic weather for the past few days so we can’t complain, and we still have our massive plot all to ourselves although many more people have been trying to sneak a look and bag our pitch but we have our trailer and table etc strategically placed just to make it difficult for anyone to come and disturb us and we are holding strong onto it or at least hopefully until the morning of 18th anyway fingers crossed seeing as there is also only the 1 electric point up here too it has been a great help… we are certainly going to miss this place when we leave, the higher tiers and levels of this campsite are the best for the sun and warmth but the steep inclines make it awkward to get too, the lower levels are really dark, shaded and dismal looking at least in the winter anyway and also full of mosquitoes due to the small stream that runs through the site, this area is also where some of the shower and toilet facilities are, but I have nicknamed the lower areas of this campsite “the dreggy, depths of despair” and we certainly wouldn’t have stayed for long if we had had to stay in the lower part of the site…

By the time we update our blog next time we should have some new adventures to report on, so bye for now we must go get ready for moving on…

take care

Donna x

 

 

 

waste not, want not!!

Well I think we most definitely made the correct decision to haul ourselves down to the bottom of Portugal just before Christmas arrived and for us to be settled over the Christmas period here, as there’s been some pretty unusual weather activity in the South of Spain, I know it’s winter but people come here at this time of year for winter sun… not snow… and it’s currently snowing or on alert for snow in 30 Spanish provinces including in the South of Spain… presently Malaga has snow… of all places, we got our timings just right for crossing the mountains too… as there’s definitely been a lot of snow across the mountain areas since we passed through, right now at the top of Spain and bottom SE of France there’s currently 7 metres of snow in some areas, there’s a lot of people trapped amongst all of that snowfall in cars etc including a whole town currently without electric, now this is great for skiing and those on holidays for that very reason, but not for the sun seekers, the roads leading over the mountains and into Spain are treacherous and have been pretty impassable at times, so for all those stuck or thinking of trying to get through just hold off and stay safe… at least till it improves…

The weather here has been a mixed bag couple of heavy rainy and windy thunderstorm days and nights, followed by some sunny days, we managed to do a hand wash and get a load of washing dried yesterday before a heavy rain period began, so happy days… we had planned on moving back into Spain around the 9th but luckily we are waiting on mail… once that’s arrived we will decide whether or not to move into Spain yet, as some travellers are currently rushing towards us here in Portugal to get away from the weather conditions, but we will watch the weather and local forecasts and decide when ready, as we really don’t wish to be caught out by heavy snow or hail storms. The most accurate weather forecasting app we have found so far is an app called AccuWeather, it’s been pretty spot on for us throughout this trip…

 

 

Living as we are at present we have seriously noticed just how much food we used to waste and throw out at the end of the week, that is when we were living in a house… and I hate to waste food, I really have become a little obsessed with limiting our waste, food waste now to us turns into money wasted… I also hate plastic packaging (but we’ll come to that later)…

In the motorhome we have a large fridge and a smaller top freezer, the freezer has become such a useful part of our food storage… I seriously wish it was larger, when we do our food shopping I get home and portion up what doesn’t need to stored fresh and kept in the fridge ie. meat portions, frozen veg etc.

We have sometimes managed to live for weeks on our travels without going food shopping and other times not so long, depending really on where we’ve shopped and what we have had left in the cupboards and fridge-freezer,  I thought way ahead before we left and we actually brought multiple tins of baked beans (about 20 cans… Pete likes baked beans!!!) these were purchased when on special offer in the supermarkets back in the UK ie 6 tins for 4 etc, I also brought along things like sauce mixes and of course Bisto gravy granules of which I bought two tubs with us (I love Bisto gravy!), then there’s T-bags I can’t live without Tea, so I bought loads of big boxes along with us (Tesco’s own brand red label T-bags are pretty good as far as t-bags go and are a pretty fairly priced for quantity compared to others!!) I also brought along ample supplies of things like soaps, shampoos and medicines (antihistamines, painkillers etc), plus a couple of large sacks of the dogs food, but sadly many of these supplies have become depleted or even totally gone now (I’m wondering if I could talk Tesco into doing a home delivery for us!!!)

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Anyway I have managed to get Pete over his fear of frozen foods, at home he would despise it and argue that it doesn’t taste as good as fresh foods, I begged to differ and now he realises it’s actually not bad, he also has a thing about reheated food ie. stews, curries to name just a couple, but I am working with him on this too, he has managed a couple of reheated meals so far, after all things like stews and currie’s are often left till the next day to allow flavour to absorb… I will try harder on him with this one….

Maybe you might think I am going slightly too far here… but has anyone heard of veg peel soup?… No… ok, so it’s all the washed veg peelings from your fresh veg ie carrots, potatoes, cauliflower etc that would normally be thrown away in the bin instead it gets stored in a freezer bag until you have enough to make a big pot of soup with, and therefore you have very little waste and you’re left with a lovely tasty veg soup… I am still kicking myself at leaving my slow cooker at home as this would have been ideal for cooking some of the above mentioned meals…

Also long life milk… now I was never really a big fan of UHT milk myself until this trip but now it tastes fine to me, ok I will admit it took maybe a week to get used to it, but now really… its fine, I don’t mind it at all, it’s also handy over here to buy a pack of 6-8 cartons of milk and just put one in the fridge as and when you need it…

I wanted us to eat a little healthier and therefore to have at least two vegetarian meals a week this year, we have managed to do this for the last 2 weeks so far with some nice pasta dishes, spinach and ricotta ravioli is lovely, we will see what ingredients we can throw together for veg meals in the next few weeks if you can think of anything we should try please let us know!!!

I mentioned my hate of Plastic earlier, now I shall mention it some more…. its been in my newsfeed a lot lately and urghhh… yeah I have to be really honest and say I’m not a fan or lover of plastic products or items, and especially one use plastic… for instance when I buy veg, I don’t bother bagging it unless I have to (after all it didn’t come out of the ground or off a tree wrapped in plastic), I just chuck it… I mean place it… as it is, into the trolley or basket… which is probably much to the annoyance of the shops till assistants dealing with all the fruit and veg rolling around on their belts (sorry shop assistants)…

Another thing I hate is seeing sweets or confectionary items in a plastic wrap or dare I say it… even in plastic bottles… some of my work colleagues will be horrified at me saying such a thing… but why? So many confectionery manufacturers are using plastic now and no, it’s not ok, I don’t care if it is recycled it’s just a bad idea altogether, it’s much more environmentally friendly to have these items wrapped in paper or wax sealed paper, and then what child wouldn’t want to go to the corner shop and buy a 10p mix in a paper bag?? simple pleasures in life… (ok realistically you’re not going to get much for 10p nowadays, but you get the drift)

Surely we are just making the world far worse for the future with all this plastic waste laying around and for what?? it just seems every item we buy nowadays has plastic wrapped around it or in it… You see pictures of animals ingesting this horrid stuff or getting tangled in it and then perishing because of it, bottles and bits of plastic polluting our oceans, the fish in our oceans again innocently ingesting the stuff (which by the way, via the food chain we humans then ingest also), litter all over our cities and why?… because we have all become so irresponsible… or maybe because the manufacturers tell us it is for a slightly fresher longer lasting, better tasting product, products whose pleasure lasts maybe a few seconds or even a minute or two… or just for manufacturing to give better presentation of said products.. storage.. preservation.. shelf life.. now I am not knocking the manufacturers reasons after all they want their products to reach the customer in as good a shape as possible but… perhaps we should all take responsibility for the products and the packaging of these products instead of allowing ourselves to be “greenwashed” over responsibilities… I don’t mind a dent or a bit of damage on a packet, I don’t mind misshapen veg etc I do however only want plastic to be used when it absolutely has to be used, maybe it’s our own lack of understanding, respect or acceptance and that we feel everything should be pristine and perfectly wrapped… I mean why do I need a cucumber to be wrapped in plastic?

Here’s just a standard example of plastic waste I myself was guilty of this week I picked up a plastic bag full of pears when I last went shopping (they didn’t have loose pears available next time I just simply won’t buy pears if they are not loose!) but they were sweating and had became pretty nasty and half were rotten by the time they were taken out of that plastic bag which was just a matter of 2 hours after purchase, I would have much rather have purchased loose (non sweaty) pears, and I will now certainly try not to buy products like chocolate, sweets or confectionery goods that are wrapped in plastic, I just don’t like it, no matter the excuse of freshness etc it doesn’t have to be in plastic, please find an alternative wrap or I don’t buy… I shall try to limit my purchases of many things wrapped in plastics from now on…

I don’t care for everything I buy or purchase to be wrapped in plastic constantly or come in a plastic bottle because it makes the product perfect or makes it look good or even that it will enable that product to have a shelf life months longer, it’s just too much plastic waste for my liking and far too much plastic for me to wrap my small brain around, why do I have so much plastic waste to get rid off after every food shop/shop visit?…

I mean we are all guilty of using plastics and wasting stuff, but watching and being aware of our wastefulness is everyone’s responsibility isn’t it? and surely people can work out for themselves that if the products they buy are wrapped/contained in all this plastic stuff then not only has this product a higher environmental cost, but it will also have a financial cost attached, be that negative or positive, but the question I find myself asking is… is a manufacturers improved shelf life/presentation, or ease of use etc worth wrecking our environment for?

All those meme’s I see bounded about regarding when you visit the beach to pick up 5 pieces of plastic litter and dispose of responsibly, yes, of course do so, but remember you don’t need to just do it at the beach, do it at every place you visit… always try to leave a place in a better condition than how you found it… in our case it would mean us leaving footprints or tire tracks…

On a brighter note after all my eco warrior ramblings, I feel I must now go fill out an application and apply to Greenpeace for a job immediately… on of course environmental issues… after all… my motorhome engineering experience will probably get me a litter picking job…

On a much funnier note Toffi’s doggy friend “Gumbo” came around to see her and promptly ran off with her rawhide chewy bone… so that went well… the next day I found a bag hung on my washing line with a new replacement bone inside for her, apparently Gumbo’s owner was totally horrified at his dog’s behaviour and thieving ways he promptly went out to get her a replacement after Gumbo refused to give up the original bone!!!.. poor bloke, I had told him not to worry about it when it happened… it must cost him a fortune replacing things his pup takes a liking too…!!!

Stay warm folks till next time

Donna x

 

 

 

 

 

What’s in a name…

Well there’s been some lovely sunny days here in Portugal, but boy when it rains it pours down and it can get pretty windy in Portugal, it’s currently blowing a gale outside, we even watched lightning through the bedroom roof skylight and listened to the rumble of a big thunderstorm here during last night… but the weather on fine days is slightly predictable, with the day starting to warm at about 8am, by 10am the warm sun’s shining and then at about 1.30pm the wind starts picking up for an hour or so before the day starts cooling and the sun starts going down at about 4pm… I hear that the weather in the UK has been a atrocious so for all our friends and families at home in the UK we hope you stay safe and warm through the storms…

 

P.s I shall just post some random pictures of the campsite throughout the post to alleviate you all of the boredom of my ramblings… Note the height barriers inside the campsite in the pics here? We had to drive a different way through the site to avoid these… They have a sign saying 3.25m we are 3.2m high and didn’t want to risk it as there’s lots of evidence that these have been hit several times in the past so not sure their measurements are correct… But, if you come to this campsite there is a way to avoid these so it’s worth asking at reception…

I’d mentioned to Pete that I wanted to refresh and learn more about the motorhome well just the general stuff really, in case I ever needed the knowledge at some point in our journey, as Pete being the mechanic/engineer usually carries on and deals with these types of things, but it then made me question my own ability, we often hear on groups we belong too, where ill health or accidents have meant that it has left the other lesser knowing person in a bit of a pickle while on a long tour or holiday, and I didn’t want this to be the case for our tour, if God forbid anything happened, so if anything happened to me I’m pretty sure Pete wouldn’t bat an eyelid, he could cope with everything thrown at him, after all he’s been fixing things all his working life… but if it were to be the other way around would I know how to do stuff? Sure I’ve been known to be handy at fixing things and stuff like that and I know I can do many things the average woman doesn’t bother getting their hands dirty with but most of it I learnt through hands on experience, so I just wanted to be confident that I could get us out of any pickle if needed…

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I decided I better brush up on things so, on with my big girl pants and for an hour this afternoon Pete tutored me in the art of all his knowledge, I assured him that this is mainly so that if he ever had to rely on me keeping things ticking over he could rest and  recuperate in a bit of peace, safe (kind of…) in the knowledge I knew what I was doing…

Pete took me through workings of a multi meter (I’ve never used one before, luckily though I am a fast learner!), helped me with going about fault finding etc, showing me where all the fuses are situated, trust me on a motorhome there are 3 large fuse boxes all with multiple fuses to multiple different things (engine fusebox, cab fusebox, then the habitation fusebox not to mention also the solar panel fuses and battery switch (under drivers seat), and Webasto heating system fuses (again 1 of which is also not included in the above 3 boxes but under the drivers seat again, we know this as it took us 2 hrs to find that blighter a few weeks ago!)

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Also we of course have the 2 batteries on board to think of, one for the engine and the other being the leisure battery for the habitation area… this battery sits under the drivers seat (to replace this at any time we have to take the drivers seat out what a poor design decision!), anyway this battery is to supply 12v for things such as our TV (which is 240v or 12v), the interior/exterior hab lights, water pumps, heater pumps etc, then we also have 240v to think about for when on hook-up on campsites etc (this allows us to run normal 3 pin plugs) and also where the trip switch for that is, how to test the electric etc let’s not even get started on reverse polarity (I’ve just chucked that in so that it sounds like I know what I’m doing by the way!!)

There’s the gas and gaslow system to work out, where the cut off valves are situated (all 7) and which refill valve for which country, I have yet to refill our gaslow LPG system myself at the garage and usually just watch Pete from a safe distance… But I will have to get the knack of this next time we fill up the 2 x 11kg tanks we have on board… But once full they seem to last us months luckily…

Then there comes the cassette and chemicals I shall not even bother going into details over this, trust me it’s the much less glamorous side of motor homing….

I now know how to check and fix all the above and also where the power steering fluid, brake fluid, dipstick, oil, water etc go…. but I had to call it a day when Pete started going into detail about how the engine and clutch worked and just gently remind him that that’s what garages are for… And it’d probably be much safer if I just called the breakdown assistance if anything happened to those parts… But now that I am a fully qualified motorhome engineer, I feel much better and it also gave the grey matter a workout and something to do, I shall seriously consider whether or not to include my newly acquired skill/qualification into any future CV’s…

Toffi got to see her doggie admirer “Gumbo” yesterday, although it was a little… ummm… how shall we put it… awkward… when she stumbled across him shockingly admiring and playing with another female doggie near his pitch (imagine her shock & horror at this abhorrent act of betrayal!!!) I don’t think she was impressed anyway, she was a little frosty towards him to say the least when he finally noticed her and came bounding over to see her!!! I’ve had to sit her down and reassure her, that, she is… of course… the prettiest out of them both… And then imagine our horror again after this when chatting to his owner we found Gumbo’s name not to actually be “Gumbo” after all… but Beau, oh dear, it seems we got it mixed up when his owner was giving his dog the instruction to “Come, Beau”… It must have been the French accent… however I personally think the name “Gumbo” is much more fun and suits his personality much, much more… So I’m sticking to it… as it would also seem that again when chatting to his owner, hilariously “Gumbo” had been up to his old tricks again and apparently he had come home proudly sporting a huge steak he’d pinched from someone’s BBQ nearby!!!

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Again we had problems with the contract “three” mifi account so after chatting with them, and explaining that the mifi unit works fine with a PAYG sim but not my contract sim they are now going to send a new Sim out for me, but they are unable to send it to us abroad… so this sim will be sent to our address then forwarded with our mail to Pete’s sisters address and thankfully Karen and Graham have agreed to send it on to us… this now means that we will have to stay at this campsite until we have received the forwarded post which isn’t a problem as we hadn’t  planned on moving for a few more days yet anyway and hopefully when it arrives the new sim will work correctly fingers crossed… Many, many, Thanks to Karen and Graham for supporting us and sorting out things like this for us and forwarding our mail etc, as without this support and help we would be lost!!!

Pete went to use his bike and found he had flat tyre, yep definitely got a puncture, we have no idea where the puncture kit is or even if we remembered to bring it!!! We shall have to search for a shop that sells puncture kits on our next venture out… In the meantime I will gladly share my bike with Pete in the hope that my squeaky front brakes annoy him enough for him to adjust them correctly…

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looks like someone else churned up that 1st pitch too!

Stay safe and warm where ever you may be till next time,

take care,

Donna x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wolf Moon of New Years day 2018

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A couple of days before New Year’s day I took a lovely bike ride, it was just up to the supermarket to top up on essentials truth being I just selfishly needed some time to chill and relax to myself… it was lovely, as all day and every evening I have Toffi climbing all over me constantly and as much as I love and adore her, she’s really heavy and has some pretty sharp claws going on, they hurt and bruise my legs, so it becomes painful and tiresome… Pete also realized this to be the case and although he was nervous about me wandering off all alone while he babysat Toffi he allowed me to go off in search of supplies… so giving me a kiss, reiterating to me to ride on the right and making sure I had my nerd cap in place (cycle helmet) he bid me goodbye with a nervous wave, me… I was I heaven, a little bit of me time… well a whole 30 minutes or so without the dogs claws grabbing onto and digging into my thighs, with Toffi claiming the world record of lapdog loyalty… selfish as it seems my varicose veins just couldn’t take much more without a rest in-between the claw grab attacks…

I don’t actually believe Portugal or even Spain for that matter to be any cheaper than the UK, food shopping wise that is, I only picked up a few essentials such as teabags, sugar, bin bags, some fruit, veg and a couple of pasta meals etc and just this alone came to €48… normal tea bags are awfully expensive here in the EU between €2.75-€4 for just a small box of 40 typhoo tea bags although they seem to have many of those awful other fruity flavoured tea bags much cheaper (but I just wanted normal T-bags) I did also buy a couple of big bottles of lager at €2 each for New Yrs which unfortunately we consumed when I got home, I guess a kind of celebration of my safe homecoming….

New Year’s Day is here and we’ve decided to have a full English fry up with bacon, sausages, eggs, beans etc you know all the unhealthy stuff… in all fairness this will be the first English fry up we’ve had since travelling in 4 months, but Pete just loves frying food, its quick and easy, but it is messy and unhealthy… he tells me everyone fries food everyday… but I beg to differ… do you fry your food in oil, everyday? what about casseroles, pot curry’s, stews or baked potatoes or baked pasta dishes I think his other excuse is the amount of gas it uses to oven cook as frying of course is much quicker but I sometimes get a bit overwhelmed with all the oily fried stuff and although I don’t dislike it, I feel it can’t be doing either of us any good… so we are going to start having at least 2 vegetarian meals (meat free meals) a week from now on, and a little less fried food as we both really need to start eating healthier, so although Pete doesn’t yet know it… it’s our New Years Resolution to do so…

While we were outside enjoying the sunny weather and cleaning blankets etc on new years day, one of us remembered the advert where they sang “they’re tasty, tasty… very, very tasty, they’re very tasty!” So with that buzzing around in our heads we were trying to think what advert it was from… We thought maybe frying chips? Birdseye? Sausages? In the end we had to look it up… It was Kellogg’s bran flakes of all things an advert remembered from 1982… 36 yrs ago!!! Crikey time really does fly… And for those of you with that tune now whirling around in your head… You’re welcome!!!! We then spent mid morning remembering old adverts like Smash with the robots, bounty bars and Flakes (which you could obviously only eat if you were a beautiful woman on a Caribbean beach), yellow pages (J.R.Hartley searching for his fishing book), Mars bars (A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play, apparently… This I think was clearly thought out for our fellow Mars workers…), Cadbury’s milk chocolate tray (because of course, a lady loves milk tray!), and then of course the iconic Wrigley spearmint chewing gum (where sharing a stick of spearmint chewing gum with a good looking stranger on a coach was all the rage!) Obviously a favourite of us Wrigley workers I expect a few chewing gum sticks were handed out on a few coaches after this advert aired and the tune weren’t too bad either!!!

Well considering I have worked night shifts consistently for 25+ yrs, and always been very much a night owl… amazingly these days I just can’t seem to manage to stay up past 10pm now with perhaps 30 minutes of reading a book before drifting off, I am then fast asleep and I wake up at about 8.30am everyday.  Last night being New Years Eve was just no exception for me, I just can’t seem to keep myself awake, I was woken by all the fireworks at midnight but to be honest I was so very, very tired, I just fell promptly back to sleep, whereas poor old Pete was sat on his lonesome, sipping his G&T with the internet and again his music as company, I heard him go outside a few times to admire the fireworks which were going off all around us along with the shouts from others wishing everyone a Happy New Year mostly in Portuguese!!! But it’s so frustrating that I am still feeling such extreme exhaustion, even without working 8-12 hrs a day, at least before I could blame it on working nights… but I am still having to sleep a minimum of 10 hrs a day just to feel half human (I blame all the fresh air and early mornings now!!!) I keep on promising my lovely colleagues that we will call or facetime them and have a good catch up with them all on their nightly break times… but so far I have just not managed to be able to stay awake, I am going to have to start napping during the day or something too at this rate!!!

On 1st of January 2018 there was a Beautiful Full Moon in the sky… we tried our hardest to get a great shot of it, the sky at night where we are is amazing but really our pictures do not do it justice at all, so if Father Christmas is reading, I’d like to let him know in advance and give him plenty of notice of what I would like please… (also I would remind him I haven’t asked for a Christmas present for years!), but I would really like a night camera or lenses that will help me take pictures of the stars in the sky and maybe snap a picture of the man on the moon..!!! and in return I will try my hardest to be a good girl this year… I’ve Just remembered also when I was a child we used to have a pub down the road near where I grew up in Croydon called “the Man on the Moon”…

 

There are several warnings on the groups that we belong to about processionary caterpillars (nasty little things) coming out early due to the dry spring that was had here, they don’t usually start appearing until about March through till June but some say they have already seen a few nests hatching early, these are terribly dangerous to dogs and the effects of coming into contact with them can kill a dog in half an hour, so we will have to be watching out for these pesky things everywhere we go for the next 6 months it seems now!!!

Happy New Year everyone!!!… we hope this year brings you Health, Happiness, Joy and Prosperity, may 2018 be a great year for you all…

Donna x

 

Camping Turismo (Campsite Turiscampo) GPS N37°6’4″  W8°42’56”

Camping Salema N37°4’30”  W8°49’53”

There is also an Aire in Sagres which is not far from Salema and also a beach further the opposite way carrying on past the Salema campsite and turning left before the small village, then right at the end of that road where you can wild camp very near to or on the beach…