Week 36 - Good site, good town, great company.

Sunday 30th March 2014.

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Frank volunteered to drive today, first to Constanza. Rosemary programmed their sat-nav to take us via the pretty route and off we went. Things started off OK but unfortunately R & F’s sat-nav is American and we all know that Americans are far more optimistic than is good for the rest of us and we began being sent down rougher and smaller roads until without the option to back up or turn around we faced what appeared from the car a cliff edge. We all got out to scout the way down. It was hard enough walking/climbing down let alone driving down, but as said there was no real option but to continue. Frank got back in the car, Sue got back in (well she was a social worker who’s job it was to support those in difficulty). Rosemary and I elected to do the hard job of waving our arms about giving loud contradictory advice and keeping well away from any danger. With great skill Frank piloted the car to the bottom of “the cliff” and five difficult but no longer heart stopping minutes later we were back on a black top road. Which without very much more ado we arrived in Constanza, a pretty town, like many here built on a hill that requires a great deal of effort to explore. We stopped in a tiny cafe for coffee and the cafe owner required Rosemary to provide name and address before providing four coffees and four little cakes, we thought he was making a pass but we were told that legally every sale in Portugal must, for tax purposes be traceable from supplier to customer but that very few actually follow the rules - certainly we have never been asked for ID except when going onto a campsite, never in a cafe. Constanza nurtures the memory of poet Luis Vaz de Camões who was sent away from court for misbehaving with a court lady. He actually lived here very briefly after 1546 (the year not the time ☺️)

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From Constanza we moved on to Castelo de Almourol, dramatically set on a tiny island in the Rio Tagus. The only way to reach the castle was by boat and we were looking forward to exploring the castle which from the shore looked quite dramatic. Closed, and it’s not Monday. We could do nothing but look from the shore. It looked good.

Monday 31st March 2014.

My turn to drive again today, we went to Fatima where on 13th May 1917 three children: Lúcia and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, while guarding their sheep in the Cova da Iria, witnessed an apparition of a lady dressed in white. The lady, later referred to as Our Lady of the Rosary, indicated that she was sent by God with a message of prayer, repentance and consecrations. She visited the children each month on the 13th day from May 13 - October 13. The last apparition occurred on October 13, and was witnessed by 70,000 pilgrims. Lucia became a nun and as Sister Lúcia, she recounted three visits from an angel to her and her cousins. Between April and October in 1916 this angel invited them to pray and do penitence. The angel visited them twice in Loca do Cabeço and once by the well in Lúcia's garden. Jacinta died in 1919 and Francisco in 1920 from the Spanish flu Epidemic of 1918-1920, and were later beatified on 13 May 2000 by Pope John Paul II. Lucia lived until 2005.

Fatima is a strange place, the fabulously wealthy church seems to live quite happily alongside the shops selling the most tawdry religious junk (the only word for it) and those selling expensive designer religious artefacts. From Fatima we drove to Ourem for a little quite contemplation. Ourem is another fortified town built on a hillside that was converted in the 12th century to a royal palace. Unfortunately the rain was “persisting” down in a relentless manner so after a short walk and determining to return in sunshine we returned to Tomar.

On New Years Day we had a special four course Menu Del Dia (menu of the Day) at the camp restaurant where we were introduced to delicious pigs cheek casserole. When we went to the market last Friday we saw and bought some pigs cheeks, these are large pieces of meat normally sold complete with a chunk of jawbone attached. Tonight we had agreed to share our pigs cheek casserole with Rosemary and Frank and they would share their rabbit casserole with us. The two casseroles complimented each other well and R & F who had not tried the cheeks before agreed they were a very tasty cut of meat.

Wednesday 2nd April 2014.

R & F had been told that if they visited Tomar they must go to Tabulerio Restaurant. We all went for lunch there today. Having tasted our pigs cheeks earlier in the week R & F were keen to try them again, “very sorry” said the waiter “we have none left”. R & F chose lamb dishes Sue and I went for Seafood Rice a Portuguese speciality - lots of chunks of fish, prawns and other delicacies cooked up with creamy rice. When we were all tucking in the waiter brought a sample of the pork cheeks for us to try, they were good - but not as good as Sue’s recipe.

Needing to work off a little of our lunch we went for a walk around the local park and shortly after finished up at a local match box collection museum. Started by a local girl with a matchbox depicting the coronation of our Queen Elizabeth II the collection now contains some 47000(ish) boxes from many countries. It was strange that Ship matches, the boxes we both remembered as being the most common when we were kids were not as we thought made in UK by Bryant and Mays but by a Swedish company.

Thursday 3rd April 2014.

Spoke to the agents managing the house today. The tenants still have not paid rent for February or March, neither have they moved out as required before 1st April. Court papers have been prepared and will be served in the next few days. We should regain possession, so we are told, in around 10 days. We will believe it when it happens.

BBQ tonight. A goodbye dinner and what a dinner it was F & R certainly know how to make that BBQ sing. Tomorrow we go north, Rosemary and Frank go south. 

Friday 4th April 2014.

Having said our goodbyes to Rosemary and Frank we head north aiming for Camping Orbitur Caminha a site we had been to before about as far north as you can go in Portugal without going into Spain. It was a good run but the rain fell relentlessly all day.

Saturday 5th April 2014.

It rained all night long and for a while the storm caused a power outage. We were very pleased. There is a group of 60 university students on site and last night they created mayhem that went on virtually all night. It doesn’t bear thinking about what they would have been like had it been a clear moonlit night. The site manager lives on site and together with the night guard tried in vain to quieten then through the night. This morning he gave them 24 hours to be off the site so another noisy night tonight. Thank the lord for ear-plugs.

Last Updated - Sunday 27th April 2014.             © Seve  Ghost 2014