Footloose in the Algarve

Thanks to our O2 data SIM’s 45Gb monthly allowance, even when in Europe we’ve been catching up the drama series ‘LIFE’ via BBC iPlayer. We’ve both really enjoyed the format, although we were ever-so slightly disappointed with the final episode which we both thought a bit short on drama compared with the previous twists, turns and surprises. As a Guy Garvey fan I was also taken by the theme music ‘My Angel“. No this is not a tenuous (although much overdue) link singing the praises of my beloved, but more of an insight into our ‘LIFE‘ in the Moho.

Having moved on (for now) from Mikki’s place to stay near Albuferia, we found our way west along the coast to Praia de Luz and the very different campsite at Turiscampo. If Mikki’s is earthy, by contrast this Yelloh Village site is highly manicured with indoor and outdoor swimming pools and even 5 star showers for the residents’ pampered pooches!

This photo shows the rain but doesn’t illustrate how high it was bouncing!

Talking of showers our arrival coincided with the onset of rain. The forecast suggested we were due a serious thunder and lightening storm. When you’re handicapped by the weather, there’s not much else to do in the van during the daytime – it’s time to find a good book, practice duo-lingo or perhaps research where to go next. However after dark and with dinner in Margo’s exclusive restaurant taken, the nightly phone calls made, it’s time……. to get the cards out. Oh what exciting lives we lead.

Thunderstorms ‘light up’ the Algarve – image courtesy of Michal Bruxo

During the night of the predicted storm, we realised rather late that our awning was still out and it had started to lash it down. Waiting until it eased a bit, I grabbed the umbrella (is that a lightening rod I’m holding?) and dashed out to put our sodden ‘sunshade’ away. As I was about to come back in, I noticed our neighbours struggling to put the their awning away. They hadn’t been so lucky and the wind had got hold of one corner and snapped off the retract arm from it’s outer mounting point. A quick grab for my International Rescue outfit and the toolbox from Thunderbird One and between us we quickly repaired the connection sufficiently for it to be retracted in time before the heavens opened up, F A B. Mr Tracy.

The next night brought even more drama. Two nights before we had found a (keep-Dave-happy) pizza place in the village next to Turiscampo. Nearby Lesley had spotted Sunita’s Castle – an Indian restaurant – so we decided to satisfy her longing for a curry. Alas, walking along the rough tarmac road in the dark, Lesley stumbled and fell on her hands and knees in the mud. As a result she sprained her ankle quite badly, although the thought of the curry temporarily overcame the pain. The discomfort didn’t improve when arriving at the restaurant with embarrassingly mucky knees and hands that were too muddy to accept the mandatory alcoholic hand sanitiser, oh dear.

Sunita’s Castle’s brown panelled decor had all the charm of a1970’s London transport canteen, but the food was surprisingly good especially the naan bread.

A quiet Salema beach

With Lesley’s ankle needing 72 hours rest and regular application of ice packs, it was difficult to walk anywhere far. Even so, we made a short journey to the coast and managed to get Margo close enough to the beach at Salema for Lesley to sit on a road side bench whilst I found a parking spot for Margo behind the village.

Feeling like we’d ‘landed’ ourselves in the Algarve we decided we should get a better feel for the whole area and go and explore the countryside away from the coast, so we made a bee-line for the five star Monchique Resort and Spa.

No Lesley you can’t use the pool as an ice pack – although it was ‘blumin freezin’

No I’m only joking we didn’t desert Margo, instead she found her way up a rough rock strewn track about a 1km south of the spa to Camping Vale da Carrasqueira. The campsite’s website makes the very bold claim to be”the best caravan park for mobile homes in the Algarve“! (I think they should consider sacking their publicist and hire someone with fewer concerns for truth decay and false modesty – I hear Donald Trump will be looking for work in January).

After a couple of nights R&R we left behind the creature comforts of our gravel parking spot (complete with on pitch EHU, water and GWD*), heading on to an overnight spot at the new (this year) Area de Autocaravanas de sao Marcos Da Serra.

We had no idea why the trees in the main square in Marcos Da Serra have been so beautifully crocheted. Apparently after years of extensive research Portugese scientists have discovered that some tree species feel the cold this time of the year and ‘Yarn Bombing‘ helps them keep warm! Who’d have believed that?

Clearly Cork trees are much hardier and don’t mind at all spending the winter without their trousers on.

Barking to protect to stop us stealing the bark trousers!

The dog’s bark, was probably worse than his bite., or wait for it .This dog was barking up the wrong tree…. groan oh forget it.

After a few days rest, Lesley found cycling easier on her ankle than walking. Using Komoot once again we found an easy 9 mile circular route from the auto-caravans site in Marcos Da Serra.

Halfway across I started to worry the battery might not work so well under water

The route we chose had, at some point, to cross a river to get home. We found a track that went down to the river (and continued up the other side) the only problem was the width and depth of the wet bit in the middle. I gallantly, nobly, bravely, nay foolishly, offered to go first to see how deep it was. Lesley on the other hand sensibly took her shoes and socks off, rolled up her trousers and came out the other side considerably drier than me……. hmmmmmmm.

Swiftly moving on, next day we made our way a little further north towards Ourique leaving the Algarve and entering the Beja District and to Serro da Bica. This was a gem of a camp site run by a Dutch couple where we felt very Covid safe, a completely chilled and relaxed place to be. We had originally booked for one night but ended up staying for three, although Lesley would have stayed on longer.

The random scattering of pitches helped create a relaxed feel at Serro da Bica

We didn’t do very much whilst at camping Serro da Bica except another quick 9 miler on the bikes. This time Lesley volunteered to go first across the ford over Mira river at Alento.

As members of the UK Carthago Owners Club we thought this would make a good entry for their STC (Spot The Carthago nonsense.

Well that’s nearly caught up with our Portugese wanderings in these strange Covid times. We’ll hopefully bring you bang up to-date in the next blog suffice to say we’re staying safe and hope you all are too.

Toodle Pip

Dave & Lesley

EHU – Electric Hook Up

*GWD – Grey Water Disposal not to be confused with black water, where… on second thoughts ,let’s not go there.

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