Thursday, 30 January 2014

And so we reach the Algarve.........

It's a month now since we left the UK. Portugal is growing on us, a couple of days ago we reached the Algarve, the weather is improving a little though it's certainly not tee shirt weather! Most days and nights we have had at least some rain, (often a lot) but days without some sunny spells have been few and far between so we mustn't grumble.

After Cabo Espichal Lighthouse and our two very windy nights, we headed inland to visit the Roman ruins of Mirobriga at Santiago do Cacem. Unsurprisingly we were the only visitors and it was a lonely spot but set in gorgeous countryside.

Remains of the temple at Mirobriga

We then travelled through cork oak forests and vast numbers of Eucalyptus and pine trees. Cork is a threatened industry and I'll never look at a cheap plastic 'cork' or screw top bottle in quite the same  way again......here's why. POP

Fallen acorn from a cork oak tree


We've had just 2 more camp site nights since my last post, mainly to get laundry done, it's the drying of it that's the issue when it rains so much. The day after our last campsite stop we went into the nearby village and had lunch in a beach bar and then took the dogs for a run on the sand. Most beaches ban dogs but no-one seems to mind in the winter, we often have a whole beach to ourselves. From the town of Vila Nova de Milfontes we could see another beach on the other side of the estuary that looked a good place for stopping overnight and indeed it was, as we had plenty of food and water we had two nights there.

Looking across the estuary to
Vila Nova de Milfontes
from our overnight spot

We have now made our way down almost to the “Land's end” of Portugal and are camping for the third night on a huge almost empty car park at this beach, having been shopping for supplies today and to get some water so that we can be independent for a few more days, just need some sun on our solar panels to charge our batteries. When we first arrived here Nigel went off to explore with the dogs and when he came back he said, "It's worth the drive from Manchester just for this beach!" It's a great spot, gently sloping, firm sand and crashing surf. 


Current campsite,  Liberté Too almost in the centre


Praia do Amado, stunning in the sunshine!


The coastline for the last 100 or so kilometres has become increasingly rugged and wild, some beaches can only be accessed via steep, sometimes rickety wooden staircases from the cliff top villages from which they take their names. Often the beach totally disappears at high tide. I can imagine the scurrying in the summer as people gather up their belongings and flee upwards as the tide comes rushing in.
Rugged coastline of Western Algarve


On the way here, we had another two nights under a small lighthouse. In Portugal the lights have blinds on during the day, presumably to protect the lenses from UV. This was only a little one and we watched while the blinds were lifted off and put back on the next morning. No automatic ones here, not that we've found yet.

Cabo Sardāo Lighthouse



Suppose I have to tell you the irony that ended in me measuring my length on the sand yesterday. This beach has three coves and we had just passed the third one, around a large expanse of rock that was jutting out when Nigel said “Do you realize you could get seriously cut off here when the tide comes in. (He just loves to wind me up and get me panicking!) “That's ok,” says I, “I won't panic for another 6 hours, the tide's going out,” whereupon a huge wave (must have been that rogue seventh one) rolled in and threatened to submerge us. We both started running towards the other cove and I lost my footing and went sprawling flat on the sand, fortunately the wave didn't quite reach me. Needless to say this caused huge mirth and luckily I wasn't hurt, just my pride!

Just to the north of "our" beach we found another interesting spot, the preserved ruins of a Muslim fishing settlement


Muslim fishing village

Oh, another “first” on the birdwatching front. While motoring down a quiet country road towards the coast the other day I spotted a bird we hadn't seen before...a black winged kite. Very rare and we both had very good views of it. I was very pleased to have seen it.


photo courtesy of andalucianblogspot.com


Belle and Dash are still enjoying themselves, they seem quite tired some days, not surprising the amount of exercise they are getting. They just love digging for stones on the beach, Belle has learned to copy Dash, I'm not sure she would have done it on her own but she hasn't quite got the technique right. 




Dash the digger


Belle the copycat!















Phew, this is exhausting!


They are very good in the motorhome though and settle down quietly in the evening while we eat and watch some TV. Oh, one sad thing, we've been watching House MD for a long, long time, excellent American medical drama with Hugh Laurie. We were rationing ourselves to make it last but we've just finished (about a week ago) the last ever episode of Series 8. We felt quite deflated when we got to the end. We're part way through Breaking Bad now interspersed with The Vicar of Dibley, which neither of us watched first time around and the first series of The Likely Lads in black and white.

Tonight's meal of fish curry and home made naan breads was finished off with a piece of this each, a car came around the car park at dusk selling bread and cakes and in order to support local business it would have been rude not to buy some!

A kind of custard tart with apple and honey...
it was delicious!
Unfortunately he only comes round once a week!



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