Dear family and friends, bon dia from the sunny Algarve. Those of you paying attention will remember that, when last we blogged we were in Spain, however, we have crossed and re-crossed several borders since then and have started on the Portugal leg of our sojourn......but more of that in while.
First, to catch up, we go back to beautiful southern Spain and to a place called Cabo de Gata (Cape Gata). Set in one of the coastal national parks this was really just an overnight stop on our way west along the coast and nothing of particular interest, other than our visit to the light house and headland next morning. As you can see from the photos there is some stunning coast line
......and also a rather quaint tradition.....it seems that lovers take padlocks to the point and lock them to the railings to show their eternal love and devotion, throwing the lock key over the cliff afterwards. Those lovers not as well prepared for this show of affection tie their hair bands to the railing instead......well, quick as a flash my Fang has her hair band off, ties it to the railing and with her locks flowing in the breeze gazes at me with a look of tender devotion. So impressed is the Frenchman who happens to be there at the same time (we all know what romantics the French are) that he asks if we would like him to take a photo, with our camera not his. ‘Oh yes please’, says Fang, in her best French, which sounds very much like her best English, and said photo is taken. Afterwards, being the gallant Englishman that I am, or rather not wanting to be out manoeuvred in the romantic stakes by Monsieur Le Frog I turn to Madam Le Frog and ask if she would like me to take a photo of her with him.....now I don’t know if something got lost in the translation or if it was because she had short hair and therefore no hair band to tie to the railings, but she looked at me as though I had slapped her across the face with a wet scallop. Undeterred I whipped her camera from her grasp, set them up in a lover’s tangle and took the photo......however, as you can see Monsieur Le Frog was not taking things as seriously as perhaps he might......so safe in the knowledge that Monsieur Le Frog will have got a good French slapping when he got back home, I was comfortable that the Anglo French balance of power had been restored to its rightful equilibrium and we set off on our way along the coast!
|I am so proud I could burst!|
|Hair blowing in the breeze....just like on the Titanic|
|M. Le Frog working his way into a French slapping|
The next few days we spent trundling along the south coast of Spain stopping at various places we had been told were good overnight stops and which we wanted to check out for ourselves for future reference. Nothing much to report here as we were just on a fact finding mission for a couple of days really.
The next notable visit was to the Rock of Gibraltar. As neither of us had been here we decided it was worth a visit although we knew it was not really going to be our sort of place. And I suppose it is worth a look, if only to experience a little piece of Britain stuck on the end of the Iberian Peninsula. To get onto then Rock by road you have to cross over the runway and if there is a plan landing or taking traffic and pedestrians are held up until the plane has landed and taxed back to the airport....this must be fairly unique I would have thought?
|Waiting to cross the runway|
It’s a bizarre experience to be walking down what is essentially an English high street with M & S and Smiths and Boots and C & A and to hear British policemen speaking Spanish. Unfortunately there was a very strong wind the day we were there, and the cable car was not operating, so we didn't get to the top of the rock, however, the visit was well worth the effort, but with nothing to hold us there we bought our quota of duty free scotch and gin on the way out, and moved off along the coast to a little village called Bolonia.
|Just before this they had greeted each other with a kiss on both cheeks.....is that British?|
|Fang phone home|
Now here was a lovely surprise. We managed to park on the beautiful deserted beach and spent a couple of days exploring.
First up a walk along the beach took us to an enormous sand dune which of course just had to be conquered......it is over 75 meters high and great fun to be on.....especially as we were completely by ourselves on this early morning walk.
|The lonely climber.....|
|Fang flaked out....|
The next surprise this small village had in store for us is the remains of a large roman settlement, which was not only just down the road from where we were parked.... but completely free entry to both the site and museum for EU members......I’m all for the EU I am.
There is nothing we love more than a good Roman ruin and we spent a brilliant afternoon in this fantastic site wandering along the cobbled roads that were used by the Romans over 2000 years ago......you can actually feel the history come up through your feet......this is our sort of place!
|Salt bins for preserving the Tuna in Roman times|
|Under floor heating for the Roman baths|
After a lovely two days we set off west again and over the border into Portugal. Here we met up with some friends of ours from Congleton who were just on their way back to the UK after spending several months escaping the UK weather in Spain and Portugal. Rob & Brenda were very helpful to us when we first got our motorhome and were full of advice which made our first trip far more stress free that it would have otherwise been. We spent a pleasant couple of days shooting the breeze, exchanging stories and places to stay and learning a new card game which Fang has already forgotten how to play, just as well as we don’t have any playing cards anyway, and the only ones we can find around here are in Portuguese.....same goes for the Scrabble sets.
We sent Rob & Brenda on their way home and continued on to a little place we had visited on our last trip to Portugal.
Paderne is a lovely little village that has a font and wash house fed by a natural spring and is nestled in amongst the orange groves. I don’t know if it’s because there is natural spring water running all around the site that sets off the positive ions, but this place just seems to insist you chill out and relax.....and that’s exactly what we did for three days. The other advantage of this visit is that we can fill our water tanks with natural spring water and Fang can go native and do the washing like a Portugese washerwoman.....I do love a photo opportunity!
|This is the only Portuguese man I could get to pose with Fang.....I took his stony silence to mean he agreed!|
|Fang gone native|
It’s a smashing place to be, more so because it’s not a tourist attraction but somewhere the locals actually use in their day to day lives.....the farmers come every day to fill their big water tanks, the locals come to fill their water bottles and some come to do big loads of washing and some come to have bush showers!
|Proper load of washing!|
|Having a bush shower......left the bottle out in the sun to warm up but didn't leave it long enough and ended up having cold shower anyway!*&"|
So we eventually tear ourselves away from our font and onto a gas station just down the road that we discovered on our last trip will fill our gas bottles for us. Keeping your gas supply topped up is a bit of an issue for motorhomers around the EU as there is a different system and different types of gas bottle in each country and it’s not just a case of swapping an empty one for a full like we do in the UK......a disjointed EU, who would have thought it?!!**
Our next destination is the Algarve. Now, had you asked me a couple of weeks ago about the Algarve I would have said it’s package holiday country with wall to wall Brits. and ‘all day breakfasts’. And to a certain extent this is true, but there is also an absolutely beautiful unspoiled dramatic coat line and wonderful white sandy beaches to be enjoyed away from the tourist traps. The local authorities seem to have kept the holiday apartments and hotels back from dominating the shore front with the result that there is a sort of green belt buffer zone that retains the natural beauty of the coastline. We managed to find some great places to spend the night and some wonderful cliff top walks to enjoy in solitude, despite it being the half term holidays in the UK. As usual the photos don’t do the scenery justice.
|Fang definitely NOT posing....|
|Fang with her new bike|
We met Bruce and Carol on one of our cliff top walks. They both live in the US, Bruce is an Aussie from Tasmania and Carol is from the States. They had got off the plane at Lisbon and were cycling around the coast to Gibraltar! The bikes they have are specially made to fold up and go on a plane as luggage.....really smart. As you can see from the photo they are both fit as a butcher’s dog.
At one of our overnight stops we met Tony his wife Maria and their daughter Anna.
Now here’s a thing.....about 30 years ago Tony was travelling through Europe in an old BT lorry that he had converted, you know the sort, you would see them all over the place putting up and repairing telegraph poles, not the lorries, the people inside the lorries.
Anyway, Tony comes into this village we are staying in, roles up and parks on the beach....out of money, out of diesel, out of food, broke as a badger. So he sort of hangs around doing odd jobs to earn a crust until one morning he wakes up to find a food parcel on his step, a couple of mornings later the same thing and then again after that, never a word from the person who is doing this. After a couple of weeks Tony decides he better try and find out who this good Samaritan is and one morning he gets up early, hides in the bushes and when his good Samaritan comes along follows him home....to discover that he and his wife run the local newsagent and laundry and they are both English....in fact they still run the same business to this day!
As Tony got to know these two, the chap introduced him to a local who was trying to raise an old fishing boat that had sunk in the local harbour. This guy needed a hand to do this and Tony and a couple of other guys worked for him. This guy had the idea that at low tide they could get to the boat and they would fix old tyres to the boat so that eventually when they had enough tyres the tide would come in and the boat would float!
Blow me down if after a month of fixing tyres to this boat the thing floats to the surface on the next high tide. This guy went onto bigger and better things and now runs pleasure boats out of Lagos, a resort just down the coast. So, Tony now has a bit of cash and he can move on.
During his time here Tony has made friends with a group of gypsies ( Fang wants me to give the correct term Travellers) who were also staying in the village. Just before he sets off the gypsy chaps come over and want to buy old bits and pieces that Tony has around his van, like an old broken clock and an old broken radio and other useless bits and pieces that Tony has collected along the way. Tony, thinking that they will sell it on and needing the cash anyway, sells them this stuff. The next day Tony takes his rubbish to the bin before setting off and finds all the stuff that the gypsy chaps had bought from him stuffed in the bin......what these guys wanted to do was give Tony a leg up with a bit of cash, but rather than just give him cash, which might have hurt his pride, they buy his junk! Good people eh?
Don’t know about anyone else but this is the first time we have ever seen seagull chicks.....they were just sitting on the edge of a cliff as we walked past
|A Welsh leek amongst the thistles...|
Portugal is Stork country and we are here at breeding time with the huge nests inhabited by parents and normally two chicks. The locals encourage the birds to nest in the towns by building platforms for them so we often got really close to the nests.....a real treat. Here are just a couple of the 1,348 photos that Fang has taken of storks, storks flying into nests, storks flying out of nests, chicks in nests, chicks and parents in nests, parents in nests, just nests....blood and sand if I have to stop for another ruddy stork photo I am going to catch one, stick in a pan, sauté it in butter and finish it off with some red wine and champignons....that should make a proper photo.
|This nest is sitting on the roof of the local supermarket...|
And so on we go to another bay which Fang has named Hippy Bay, not because most of the people there need hip replacements, no not that sort of hippy. The lets make love not war and ban the bomb and not wear any clothes type of hippie that I thought had died out in the 60’s. But no, here they are alive and well in Portugal, the guys are wandering around with their fishing tackle out of the box, and the girls with their jugs out of the cupboard......oh my this is proper laid back let it all hang out territory! So I'm now in the process of growing dreadlocks for my babe, and want to adopt a mongrel bitch attached to a piece of string......
|Hippies in action......covert photography by Fang Paparazzi|
|Another hippie on the beach|
|Fang definitely NOT posing AGAIN|
|Days end at Remote Bay|