Weeks 28 & 29. Taking it easy.

Saturday 1st February 2014

Shopping today. We have guests for lunch tomorrow and hope to give as good as we got. We hope to give F & R as good a meal as they gave us last week. Not an easy task!

We have planned a menu.

1st Course: Courgette Tortilla.

2nd Course: Fish Pie with Green Beans.

3rd Course: Bread & Butter Pudding, Apple Crumble or Strawberry Cheese Cake (all

homemade) and Cream.

4th Course: Cheese Board with Port.

Simple enough fare when you have a normal kitchen with a normal cooker and equipment but quite a test in the very small space that is a caravan kitchen with it’s limited range of cooking pots and pans and small poorly controlled cooker. Add to that we carry only two dinner plates, two side plates, two cereal bowls etc and you will, I’m sure start to appreciate the difficulty.

Sunday 2nd February 2014

Everything went like a dream. The food was very good (I can say that as I didn’t cook it) The wine very good and the company not very good - but excellent. A very good day!!

Monday 3rd February 2014

We have heard that Pam is being transferred from Basildon hospital to a Brentwood Rehab Unit. That has to be good news. Feeling a bit lethargic from the food and wine of yesterday we forced ourselves out in the car today and finished with a very pleasant drive to Mèrtola. This pretty whitewashed town is of great historical interest, the whole town being a “vila musea", a museum site. The origins of the town date back to the Phoenicians. Overlooking the town is a hilltop castle with 13th century keep that give lovely views of the river valley below. Unfortunately the museum, castle, church and just about everything in Mèrtola remains very firmly closed every Monday.

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On the way to Mèrtola we passed over a bridge that would give the UK ‘elf and safety bods apoplexy. It was just wider than the car with no side rails, just the platform. It felt very scary and we were very pleased to reach the other side. So narrow was it we stopped a motor home going the other way and warned the occupants what was around the corner and to check the wheel base width before committing themselves.

Tuesday 4th february 2014

Another dinner party in the van. This time Steve K came to dinner. Another four course job, although we cheated by starter and pudding course “left overs” from Sunday. Another success, with good food, good wine and very good company.

Wednesday 5th February 2014

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Lunch out today - again. The mains had to be pre-ordered at least 24 hours in advance from a menu that included lots of game at a restaurant called Monte Velo.

The first problem was finding the place. It was miles from anywhere down “roads” that could best be described as tracks, the location was remote to say the very least, but the food was as good as we had been told it was, and all for €55 (£11.35/head)

We will not be going again. Not that we don’t want to it’s just we were taken there and don’t think we will be able to find it again.

Friday 7th February 2014

In the early hours of this morning BBC transferred all it’s channels to a new satellite which sends a stronger signal (good for the people in UK) but a smaller footprint (bad for those, like us, outside UK). We understand that by the end of next week all the channels will be switched and we will then have no UK TV at all. We do have nearly 200 DVD’s with us so I expect we can keep ourselves amused.

This week has been dominated by food and eating. Out again to lunch today. Back to O Americo for a fish meal. We went a little later this time so there were more people in the restaurant and the service a little slower, this enabled us time to eat each fish as it was delivered - hot. I wasn’t counting (much) but I ate more than seven fish of various types and sizes and three squids. Some of the locals seemed to be having a “one meal of the week” job as they were already eating when we arrived and still steadily chomping when we left three hours later.

Week 29.

Saturday 8th February 2014

Proved what sad old Brits we are today. Like mums, we went to Iceland. Our excuse was that it was pouring with rain so the market we had planned to visit was out and we both had a hankering for UK sausages - lots of fat and rusk with not much lean meat. Portuguese sausage is like much of mainland Europe nothing added to the meat except fat and spices - tasty but not like the good old British banger.

As we arrived back on site with our bangers, (plus crumpets and Paxo stuffing) we saw one of the motor-homers trying to extricate himself from a muddy pitch and succeeding only in digging holes in which his wheels were sinking. They had been advised not to go there when they arrived a week before - the advise was ignored, and were planning to continue traveling on the morrow when the weather forecast was horrendous, so planned to go on a dryer pitch today to enable an easy exit the next day. Having already pulled one motor home from the pudding earlier I offered to have a go with them. Although the pull was awkward the SsangYong plucked them from the muddy holes with ease and they were able to get to a dry pitch without further difficulty.

Sunday 9th February 2014

Rain, rain, rain, rain, and still more rain.

Oh yes! I forgot to mention, we had run out of gas on two of the four gas bottles we carry. That may sound a lot but one is a small “Gaz” bottle, made by Calor it contains just a small amount of gas but is unique in that it is the only bottle that can be exchanged full for empty just about anywhere in Europe. All other bottles are country specific, two are UK 6kg Calorlite propane bottles and the other a Spanish 6kg Repsol bottle. We took the Spanish bottle and one of the Calor bottles to a GPL centre - a place that sells auto gas which is a mix of propane and butane and where an ancient Portuguese lady filled each bottle with 6kg of auto gas. We were charged just over €2 per kilo, the last bottle we bought in UK cost us around £22 (€27) thats around €4.50 a kilo.

Wednesday 12th February 2014

The restaurant just 100 metres from the site has reopened this week after their winter break so thinking it would be silly not to check them out we went for a meal there with Steve K tonight. Very pleasant I had fried squid, the others monkfish kebabs - we will come again.

Thursday 13th February 2014

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We went back into tourist mode today and visited Sao Lourenco (St Laurence Church). In true Iberian style the guide books said Closed for lunch till 2.30, a sign outside said closed for lunch till 3.00. The lady opened up at 3.20. The guide book says entrance fee €2.50 per head, we were charged €2.00.

When we did get inside it was certainly worth it, On 22nd September 1722 the Almancil inhabitants were in despair for lack of water and while digging a well implored Sao Lourenco for assistance vowing to build a new temple, they were immediately rewarded an abundant GUSH of water. The church took some twenty years to complete. Have a look at the pictures, the church is small but the tiles are quite stunning.

Friday14th February 2014

It’s now a week since the TV signal disappeared, many ex-pats seem to have been taken completely by surprise with the local English language newspapers full of articles giving advice and guidance. All our DVD’s are now on the Mede8er so we have very easy access to them and are in fact finding not turning the box on at 6.00pm for the news and then watching rubbish till bedtime quite pleasant, we now play music till after dinner then select a film and watch it. The TV then goes off and if it’s not bedtime more music and book reading till it is.

Saturday 15th February 2014

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Market day. This week it’s Loulé 35km north east of the site. The market like many in Portugal consists a indoor market that is held daily in a purpose built municipal building and a Saturday market where stalls selling everything from clothes to fruit and veg radiate out from the municipal market. The outdoor stalls were crowded and busy with a range of goods we’ve not often seen here but it was the indoor market that was so different. The fresh fish end was the same as everywhere else but it was in what is normally the fruit and veg end that was so different. So many of the stalls were occupied by small artisan producers originating from many european countries including the UK. They were selling a huge range of home produced goods ranging from local wines to home made pickles and sauces to cakes and fig treats. One of the best markets we have ever visited.

Evening saw us back in the restaurant just 100 yards from the site for another dose of fabulous fish. Yummy! and not only that being so close there is no designated driver - me so everyone gets to sample the house red. We will be back again.

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