Me and my van

Me and my van
Faro Island

Friday, 29 December 2017

Vets and getting back to the UK

We didn’t make a late night shower, so alarm set for an early morning one instead. Woke up super early anyway, thanks to the TearDroppers’ thoughtfully leaving a radio blasting all night.

C and I snook into the showers about 7:30am, no-one about, as planned. We had a much needed scrub in lovely hot water. Man outside now brushing his teeth, acknowledged me with a nod in the mirror, all good, C’s cover still in tack, as mirror too high to cannot reflect the dog, until C shook himself dry all over man’s espadrilles! 

Back at the van, packed up and at reception to pay and collect passport and credit card. Damn, it doesn’t open until 9am!

A quick walk along the beach at Salema, ours were the first foot steps in the sand on that glorious morning and then back to Eco-camp.

Paperwork done and off to the dreaded vet in Lagos. Sat nat decided to freeze 1 min away, and although I’d done a rekkie previously, i didn’t recognise where we were. So I had to pull over in Lagos to switch off/one engine. All up and running and back on the way to the vets.

Always a much dreaded venture knowing the behaviour of my dog. Missed the front door as it’s mirrored and looks a bit like a tanning salon, if only.

A rather strapping S. African man greeted us in the garden, Lars, the vet, I explained about my rabid dog, and the tape worm tablet was brought to us and swollowed easily with a bit of fav sausage. Perfect, job done, so I thought. 

Lars wanted to examine him, I explained about his awful behaviour and told him all was fine, only this morning had we been running along the beach catching balls and chasing birds. Lars was adamant, so I left them to it. 

An age passed, Lars appeared with assistant, ‘Oh shit, what’s C done’, I think. He could locate only a very weak heart beat and pulse, there’s something wrong, C’s NOT well enough to travel. Hand and on heart, I thought he was going to put C to sleep.

Then something happened, that’s not happened for a long time, my heart broke right then, and there, all over that reception waiting room, in front of one hunky vet, two assistants, a receptionist,  two couples and their dogs, one of which was a puppy who wouldn’t stop peeing everywhere.

Lars offers me a coffee, how did I take it, well at that particular moment, no milk, no sugar, no coffee please, just gin! Obvs not an option, so I got a mug of black coffee brought to me in the van, by the lovely receptionist, where I am now perched on the bed, hugging a hot drink and a soggy hanky.

X-rays later, report written, C’s got an enlarged heart with bronchitis, mild cyanoptic, spontaneous epistaxis, lymphadenopathy, cardiomegaly and intrathoarcic which don’t make for a good prognosis once Google’s, plus they’re buggers to spell. 

C was OK to travel, with 2 tablets a day for the journey, and a check in straight away at our vets at home. Ok, we can do this.

C’s back in the van, exhausted from trying to eat two humans. I’m a mess, sobbing into a steering wheel, and trying to work out how to switch the engine on.

We’ve GOT to go home. I’ve got to get my shit together, and get us home. Petrol was a necessity, but for this journey only, cold snacks were not, I cancelled the shopping trip for gifts and goodies and just filled up the T5 with cheap diesel. 

Most of the day was spent on the N803 Autovia Ruta de la Plata, that’s Spanish for feckin long road. It’s true to say I cried from one end of Spain to the other, with a short break just outside Seville, where it got very busy with traffic and I needed to concentrate on which sat nav instructions, to ignore. Not even ‘Simon and Garf’ at full pelt, could resume loud singing and steering wheel drumming, on this journey.

Once, I had started driving, I couldn’t stop, only to fill up van and empty me. At one petrol stop I received a free gift, a small bottle of pink liquid, it turns out to be glasses cleaner, seems there is an up-side of old age and rapid eye-sight loss. At 11pm, I had to admit defeat and parked up at a service station close to the Spanish/French border, exhausted, no appetite and eye-lids the size of golf balls!

Here, I settled down for the night, between a 24 hour petrol station and it’s all night cafe, poorly dog on one side, bike rack, on the other.


Thursday, 28 December 2017

Farewell Perfect Portugal- We’ll Be Back

Today’s Thursday, the day before V-day (vet). We need to start heading back tomorrow, straight after the dreaded appt, so I’m going to have to start packing up, right after I’ve sat on my arse for another few minutes, drinking coffee and notching page views on my blog.

I plan to do the same route home, as here, and stay at the exact same services, if I can remember which ones they are. 

I should’ve drawn a little map on the way down, I could have stuck to the front of the sat nav, to help me navigate back to those trusted spots.

Slight problem with the bike rack, it won’t clip, with all 4 clips, on to the rim of the barn door, I think it may’ve something to do with reversing into a tree, perfecting my T5s pitch angle, when I got here on Tuesday. No damage to the van, but I think it’s bent the rack slightly and now it won’t clasp with all clips.I’ve been trying to fix it with a tent hammer and a knife, my usual tool of choice, but I’m making it worse and peeing off my neighbours with loud banging and the dog barking.

It’s defo too dangerous to travel half clipped, and as I’m not usually in the habit of endangering anyone-else’s life, but my own, I’ve decided I’ll take it off off, and put it on the bed, whilst we travel.

To be honest, that racks’ been a right pain in the arse, ever since I bought it and first tried to attach it to my van. The first corner I took, the feckin’ thing slid off and skid across the road, it was an empty village road in Kent, so no-one was hurt, but after that I just stored the bloody thing in my flat. The thing is, there’s really no storage room, and the rack’s a really awkward shape and size, not flat and bits stick out at right angles.

It spent 6 months propped up behind the bed, outta the way, but it was a right faff if you wanted to sit up and watch TV. I eventually got so fed up, trying to find places it didn’t catch your jumper when you walked passed, I eventually shoved it in the rotting garden shed. However, that’s stuffed to the rafters with strimmers, potato sacs, a lawn mower and tonnes of mice shit,. To to get it in there you’ve got to really  push hard and then quickly snap the door closed, and double hinge it.

Also you’ve gotta remember that’s what you’ve done, as next time you come to open it, you get smacked in the face, with a bike handle holder.

I got some maintenance bits done to the van, and someone attached it to the van properly, I was hoping once fixed, it would encourage me to buy a bike. Needless to say, this didn’t happen and I’ve been using it to hang washing, solar showers, laundry bags, fairy lights, shoes and other camping paraphernalia, ever since, in fact, the only thing that’s not hung from the bike rack, is a bike.

I did find a bike in some random field in Swanage in August, it was old, rusty and covered in brambles, looked like it’d been there a while. I checked on site, that no-one had lost one, kept it in view, next to the van for a week, and when no-one claimed it, I attached it to my rack and took it home

Since then, the rack’s been bikeless, the bike’s now wedged in the rotting garden shed, waiting to smack me in the face, next time I cut the grass.

The plan tonight is to have posh toasties, Parma ham and those €1 cheese squares, meaning little washing up for the morning. The dog’s kept the entire packet of bacon he pinched from the make shift fridge bag, I’d hung, overnight, from the bike rack, so I am more positive about tomorrow’s tablet going down, although, tbh, as always, I’m absolutely dreading going! 

I’m gunna have a shower really late this evening, and because it’s not very busy, I’m gunna sneak C in with me and give him a bloody good shampoo, condition and scrub down, at least he’ll smell nice, when he’s mauling the veterinary staff.

I’ve got to load water and remove all the camping tatt, I’ve been leaving all over the Algarve for the past few weeks. I noticed a Lidl’s and cheap petrol place on the way here from Lagos, so I plan to leave at 8am, remembering to collect my credit card and passport from reception, get petrol and cold snack travel essentials, for the start of the epic drive back to Blighty. 

See you on the other side of the Portuguese border! 

Sexy Sea Bream Salema - Eat Your Heart Out

  • Salema is a 1km walk from the Eco-camp, via the main road, so not ideal, although there’s little traffic, being out of season. Although the summer months will obv be much busier.
Salema is a really tiny fishing village with little white washed houses and that traditional blue tiling, I’ve seen all over Portugal. 

Apparently, the tiles act to ward off evil spirits, and I’m very tempted to purchase a few hundred to disperse in the staff room at work.

There are still a few traditional fisherman’s houses that line the coast, next to swanky glass fronted new builds and a few restaurants, all with direct sea views.

The beach is soft red sand and shows a rather dramatic rocky coastline either end. A small group of local fisherman are gathered at some old wooden fishing boats, sitting on chairs, drinking and chatting, next to a rather large tractor. I wonder what they think of tourists dressed in shorts and t-shirts in mid winter taking photos of them, as I’m taking a photo of them.

The dog and I walk the breath of the beach, we’re almost totally on our own, it doesn’t take us long as it’s only a small bay, unlike the huge stretches of beach we’ve been used to.

We come off next to a restaurant on the west side,  with a dining decking that almost hangs over the beach, I lean against the no dog’s allowed sign, to pop the lead back on C and brush the sand off my trainers . 

There are a couple of shops, a small mini-mercado, an ATM and several hotels and villas with pools, advertising rental opportunities. One restaurant seems a bit keen and they’re already advertising their 2018 New Years’ Event. 

The car park facing the sea front has spaces for about 20 cars and now I see a few campers parked up there too. 

Parking is free and doesn’t seem to have any restrictions, so maybe this is the wild camp spot I couldn’t find the other day. Although slightly behind the front line shops there’s a larger dirt track car park with a camper parked up, so maybe that’s where you can overnight.

One of the campers parked along the sea front has a GB reg, it’s an old converted ambulance with solar panels covering the roof, it must have been some emergency, as they’ve managed to parked across two and a half spaces.

A few of the restaurants are open, but have closed signs outside, and I can see a handful of people munching away on mainly sea food menus, perhaps the food takes a while to cook, it does seem that bream is the dish of the day. 

We never visit restaurants as I prefer experimenting with my own camping concoctions, also the dog’s not keen on other people esp at close range or if they’re breathing. 

Heading back to the Eco-camp, one of the restaurateurs or perhaps it’s a disgruntled customer, has brought a plate of fish out to 5 or 6 circling cats, sending C into a prey frenzy, thankfully he’s on his lead or we’d have had more than shreds of bream scattered about that quaint old fish market.

All in all, the walk takes us about 30 mins each way, and offers a slight hike on the way back, as my chins feel a slight pinch, although not as much as they will when we clamber back to the dizzy heights of Zona 25, at Eco-camp.  

Salema’s got a delicate ancient and modern vibe and is defo worth a visit if you’re in this part of the Costa Vicentina National Park.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Xmas Day and The Three Brothers

First ever Xmas day in my camper, and it was fab, although the weather was not I’d planned, I’ve driven 1600 miles for some winter sun at Xmas and it bloody well rains.

A send a quick text message to my cousin and my 83 yo Aunt, wishing them a Merry Xmas. They’re both really busy cooking Xmas dinner for 9, turkey, pigs-in-blankets, Yorkshires, 3 lots of veggies, stuffing, the works, they both cook all morning, then pack all of the food into thousands of plastic Chinese delivery containers, load it into the boot of the Aygo and drive 3 miles up the road to my second cousins house, where they unpack it all and sit down to eat it, luke warm. Proving, the love of travel runs deep in my family

I also messaged my bro who’s on holiday from work and is currently shacked-up in my flat with the flu, he’s dying, apparently. 

Xmas Eve was a funny one, 4pm seemed to trigger several MHers to put large speakers outside, along with an artificial tree and whack on classic Xmas tunes. Several vans were doing this, which was fine, if you happen to be right next to one of those vans, but I was situated in the middle of them all, so had the pleasure of several different Xmas songs blaring at the same time, wasn’t sure whether to, ‘’So, this is Xmas’, or ‘Jingle Bells’, 

Someone’s dog didn’t really like being left home alone, or perhaps didn’t like the Xmas tunes and was howling every 20 secs. I put the pop top down, whacked the heating on full blast and left the title music of my GOT DVD on repeat and took the dog for a walk along the Ria da Alvor nature reserve to watch the sunset. Thankfully all went quiet at midnight, when the rain started.

We woke to rain this morning too, a few people weresitting outside under awnings wearing Xmas hats and drinking booze, maybe they’d been there all night, it was difficult to tell as most people camping look like they’ve not slept for at least a week. 

I took the dog for an extra long Xmas walk on the beach, we headed in the opposite direction  to the reserve, to Praia dos Tres Irmaos’, that’s Portuguese for beach of The Three Brothers, passing some really cool hotels right along the coast, all shut up and closed for the winter. 

We ended up on what seems to be the main beach as it was ‘busiest’ part of the beach. Three magnificent rock formations, The Three Brothers, billowing out of the sea, I got some great piccies, of the dog with two of the brothers, couldn’t seem to squish in the third on my camera site, someone was actually swimming here too! 

ow, Portugal is a stunning place, it’s quaint and very oldy Worldy, it’s safe, clean, with traffic free motorways, but the Algarve does have a downside, Atlantic Ocean. It’s not the tepid temps of the Med which I’d experienced paddling with the dog on my first day in Faro. The sea’s absolutely bloody freezing, which may explain why the lady swimming’s the only person in the sea along 3.5 kms of beach and also why she’s turned blue

We got back to the van about 2pm, and I started making lunch; Sirloin steaks, sautéed pots, beef toms and peppercorn sauce, I’d found an old sachet in the pasta and rice cupboard. 

The peppercorn sauce had gone a bit lumpy, it tasted fine, so I sieved it and shoved the small black lumpy bits in the bin. 

Everything else seemed to be going really well, pots boiled and sautéed, tomato sliced and fanned out on the plate, sauce cooling, and then I started frying the steak, using the bivvy tin I’d sautéed the pots. I think the oil may have got a little bit too hot and the pan caught fire, I instinctively put out the flame with my hand, removed the black smoking bivvy tinned 
steak, and switched off the gas, thank god, nothing had caught alight, just soot deposits on the cupboards over the hob, which I’ll wipe clean once my hand’s stopped blistering! 

It was warm enough to sit outside, so I set up my little blue table, all of the food and tucked in, a little bit shaking from the fire mishap. The steak was delicious though, as were the pots, although the peppercorn sauce was a little bit disappointing, not ONE blimmin’ peppercorn. 

C sat under the table whilst I’d been flambeing, nose in the air and eyes fixated on the meat, I managed to cut his steak into really tiny pieces with my good hand, and thankfully he whaffed down a whole steak, now I defo know things are getting back to normal. That was his first meal since leaving Albufeira, and fingers crossed he manages to keep it down.

The Farmer had left early this this morning, I presume, to go home, he said yesterday he may, I really hope he finds some peace there, and his love of travelling once again. 

Surprisingly, quite a few others had also left and arrived today, I’d have thought people would rest up and not want to drive on Xmas day, I guess the roads would be clear, although they’re pretty much clear all the time

This evening was quite chilly, except for my burning hand, which I’ve now wrapped in an anti-bac wet wipe. I’m going to settle down early and watch ‘La La Land’, and ‘Chicago’, with a cheap bottle of red I’d got in Alvor. I’d actually loved a small Baileys, but I’d accidentally finished off the bottle in my coffee this morning, well, it IS Xmas.

Our very first Xmas in our van, and we survived, thought I’d give the Xmas candle a miss tonight though! 

Merry Xmas, one and all x 

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Alvor- tapas, fresh fish and cobbled streets

Our first night in Alvor, I didn’t sleep that well as someone’s very thoughtfully trained their dogs to bark all night and stop at exactly 7am, must be night workers.

The trip here yesterday was a bit stressy, the dog’s still not well and is passing runny stuff from both ends. The distance was only 30 kms or so, not a massive drive, but I had to stop several times to let him out to empty himself. 

I’m a little worried as he’s really not himself at all, no growling, frantic barking at passers-by or other dogs, he just sits still with his head hung low, he actually looks really sad. 

Thankfully, he seems happy to walk, his tail’s up, so I’m pretty sure it’s a tummy bug and nothing too serious. I’m going to keep him off food today, and ensure he gets tonnes of water.

I spotted the Alvor Aire almost as soon as we arrived, just head for the beach and you’ll pass a red sandy car park with MHs on it, no reception here, just a man with no teeth sitting in a ‘Fight Club’ caravan. 

It’s €4:50 a night and I paid, up-front for 4 nights taking me up to Boxing Day, giving us a little bit of time to unpack stuff and get settled. 

It’s really quite strange here, lots of Brit full timers ‘over wintering’, with tango tanned skin sitting outside MHs in clusters, swilling beer and drinking red wine from 10ltr boxes. They stared as I drove around the car park twice, trying to suss out the best spot. It feels like I’ve just turned up at a party, without an invite. 

All the best pitches have gone to the FTers, the ones with the view of the marsh land and the sea, nearly. I park up, then change my mind and move somewhere else, all still watching, probably waiting for me to reverse in to something, which to be fair, is a real possibility.

I park and take C to the beach straight away, he’s due another excretion. His love of the sea may cheer him up and will help wash away stuff on his fur. 

The estuary along the salt marshes is a lovely walk on a wooden walkway again, some lumberjack, out here’s, making a wooden walkway killing, but they are sturdy, look nice and give you a great view of the coast line, estuary and the little town of Alvor. 

Some locals are wading in the low tide estuary for shellfish, I presume, they’re carrying large buckets that look fairly heavy. I gestured to have a look in one’s bucket, to which he shoved it right up against my face, giving me a full-on waft of his fresh cockles. 

Back at the van I unpack the chair, table and picnic blanket and C’s bed and we sat outside. A really old, large Hymermibile, pulls up 4 bloody mtrs from us and completely blocks the sun, he gets out and says ‘Cho’, and walks off, oblivious to the fact that I’m now sitting in his MHs cold dark shadow, the downside of Aires is some don’t have marked pitches, but this one, seems to be a free for all. 

It’s late afternoon and I decide to explore the little town of Alvor and leaveC sleep. The van is insulated and ventilated and I’ll open the pop top, it’s cool inside and C’s got plenty of water and his snuggle bed. I’m not altogether happy about leaving him alone, but sometimes I’ve no choice and in any case I wasn’t going to be very long.

Alvor is a very quaint fishing village, wooden fishermen’s huts and locals BBQing freshly caught fish. The village itself it up a steepish but not long hill and the streets are cobbled with old, crumbling little houses with traditional blue and white tiling on the outside. 

The main ‘high street’ has lots of lovely looking seafood restaurants and tapas’ bars, and a fair few people sitting outside drinking coffee. I spot a rather busy butchers and decide to get something for Xmas day, juicy beef steaks, two, in the hope C’s feeling better, and some yummy looking chilli marinated diced pork for tonight. The butcher, in perfect English and a ballerinas’ hairnet, tells me to fry the pork, adding a little white wine and a pinch of salt to the bag beforehand, perfect, even I can’t feck that up.

I get back and thankfully the Hymermobile has moved on and I’m back in the sun and I happily spend the early evening working on my new blog.

A chap stops by to ask if I know where he can get electric, the outlets are full. I said I didn’t, but to ask if people were leaving soon. He asks if I’m on my own too, I tell him, I am, to which he replies, ‘Grime, isn’t it?’ I said that I actually loved it, coming and going as and when I pleased. He seemed shocked and explained he’d lost his wife and wasn’t enjoying traveling on his own.

I was just packing up to take the dog to the beach, and he asks if he could join me, I’m quite a lone camper usually, but I felt a little sorry for him, so agreed.

At this point, I hear the Pussies screeching loudly. The ‘Pussies’ are a group of ‘ladies’, and I use that term loosely, ex-colleagues, and a true bunch of absolute nutters. They force volunteered me to sign-up to a few internet dating sites, one year, but after date number 8 and an instant message photo of his genitalia which pinged in the midst of my school photo, I promptly removed myself from all of these sites. I can hear them all now, screaming from the top of their voices, ‘Yeaaaahhhhhhh, girl, get in there, go for it’! 

Thing is, this chap’s lonely, mourning his wife and sixty plus, I think, although it’s a tad difficult to tell as his face is swollen with two black eyes, a bloodied nose and extensive motteled green and blue bruising across both cheeks! He’d fallen, walking the previous day, and his head had taken the full force of the fall.

We chat a little as we walk to the beach, turns out he was a pig farmer, running two farms with his wife, until she died, leaving him to sell both as he couldn’t cope on his own. He’s really sad and misses her company dreadfully, he says, MH life’s just not the same without her. I totally get that, my Dad was the same, when mum died, he never got over losing her.

So, here I am walking a dog who’s leaking from both ends with a sad lonely old pig farmer who looks like he’s gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson, again, dream and living it, spring to mind.

Our walk was short as I was mindful of the poorly dog, and back at the Aire I left the Farmer at his MH, which, the Pussies will be rather pleased to hear, looked like a rather large one.

C’s as quiet as a mouse as I fry the pork, not even a nose-in-the-air, head-off the pillow or eye-lid raised, to see what I’m cremating, this is highly unusual. I settled on veggie rice with my chilli pork and successfully added wine and a pinch of McD’s salt to the bag and shock it, then started to fry, all was looking and smelling blimmin’ amazing, so amazing in fact, I actually ate all the chilli pork, before the veggie rice had finished cooking, how come they never do that on Masterchef? 

I settled down earlier than usual this evening, feeling a tad sad, I am worried about my bestie, as he’s not eaten anything for over 2 days and he really isn’t himself, but also I got to thinking, life can be a right bitch sometimes.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Hot Water Shower Heaven

I’ve just had the most amazing hot shower in the whole entire world! 

Ok, so it was 5 cents for 4 mins, but it’s the best money I’ve ever spent, 4 whole minutes of pure heaven, and it seemed to last forever too. The best thing was that I got to use shampoo, conditioner and soap, one after the other, and I managed to scrub everywhere, twice.

After two weeks with only a sponge and deodorant shower, a proper hot water power-shower is just incredible, so much so, that I couldn’t help tell everyone who was sitting outside, on the way back to my can. I feel like a new person, with squeaky clean skin and hair you can, once again, put your fingers through, without getting them snagged on something dead. 

I’d a second task of the day to plan, the clothes wash. There are 3 washing machines and a drier at the mini-laundrette, and a gaggle of older ladies gathered there, with red faces, speaking loudly and pointing fingers, some bloke’s jumped the queue putting his wash in whilst one of the woman had turned to get her second washing sac, so all hell’s breaking loose. Chek has locked himself in the reception area, counting small change apparently, so I decided to have brekkie now and go back later.

Mr Coachman and Mr Jumbo were up and about, wiping down their vans, climbing ladders to the roof checking satellite dishes, solar panels and the heli-pad. These guys aren’t as friendly as the last lot in Faro, and we only exchange simple, ‘Good mornings’, no camping life small talk I’m afraid, I’m guessing, this lot don’t use bottles. 

Mr Jumbo’s garage door’s been triggered and starts to rise along with a side-door, revealing two massive red canisters, like diving oxygen bottles but ginormous. Mr Jumbo appears from the roof and proceeds to real out extendable tubing, he pulls next to my chair and table, to the rear of my van and passed the back of the Coachman, located here is the waste drop. 

Mr Jumbo’s back inside his MH, sat in his dining room, finishing off smoked salmon and sipping champagne, I imagine, and here am I, sitting at an Ikea camping chair and table, sipping crunchy coffee, munching boiled eggs and listening to the Jumbo’s family’s excretions slish-sloshing passed my feet.

This brings my attention back to my laundry, and now seems to be a good time to try again.  The laundrette’s thankfully, empty, Chek’s unlocked reception and is now eager to change a euro in to two 50 cents. I prised my clothes apart and just about managed to deciphered the washing machine instructions, even though they’re in ‘English’. Washing’s in and starts spinning, that’s a good sign, with two washing tabs, on 95 degrees and the longest session poss, I’m hopeful that should restore them back to pliable bits of cloth.

Jumbo’s now blocked the sun from my seating area and the slish is still sloshing, I decide it’s a good time to explore Felicia, which seems to be a fairly sparse area to the east of Albufaira. The sign at the entrance of the park has a picture of a rocky beach and 400 mtrs, so I’m presuming the beach isn’t too far away.

We walk along the dusty road passing some restaurants, mini-mercado and a pizzieria which has a confusing black board sign inside saying ‘Open for dinner’, but a ‘Closed’, sign on the gate outside.

I spot a brown road sign, ‘Rocha Baixinha’, with what looks like a picture of a beach umbrella next to some waves, we take this path. I’m not convinced we are heading in the right direction for the beach, as it’s not very busy, but carry on, I know my little dog would love a paddle right now. We carry on down the dirt track for 20 mins or so, and come to an dead-end and a sewage plant. To be fair, it’s a pretty blimmin’ nice one, I couldn’t smell a thing, not exactly what I was looking for, although, those who know us, know my dog loves to wade through a muddle puddle.

We walked up and down the fenced area which had a sign, ‘Proibida a entrada a pessoa- nao autorozadas’, that’s Portuguese for no entry to unauthorised persons, to see if there was another path, that leads to a rocky beach, but nothing. The dog and I walk back up the dirt track, passing a local man parked halfway down it, looking puzzeled, I smile, wave and shrugged my shoulders, trying to say, ‘Oh, what a fool, I am’, although to be honest, I think he thought that anyway. 

We pass the laundrette on the way back and I pick up my clothes, and hang them on the line at the back of my van, I pull up my chair here too, it’s not Jumbo sun blocked. 

Mr Jumbo’s now put his waste paraphenalia away and on the other side of his MH he’s outside cutting people’s hair. He’s got hair-driers, tongs, straighteners and a curling kit all attached via several wires to his bus and a queue of ladies sitting in his extension, blimey, in that set-up he’s gotta be Vidal ‘bloody’ Sassoon, he’s got a French number plate too! 

This place is nice, clean, quiet but it’s a little bit ‘sterile’, for me, I also need to be closer to the sea, so I’ve decided to head further west tomorrow to Alvor, although I never really plan anything, everyday is a total surprise.

We did end the day with the bestest supper, roast chicken safely BBQd outside this time, with locally sourced huge beef tomatoes and easy peasy couscous. It really was the best feast, so far, although later in the evening sees the dog whimpering at the door, I let him out for what turns in to a vomit and runny poo. Crikey, hope it’s not the bloody chicken, or we may be in for a long night.

A little worried about the dog and the chicken, I remember my freshly laundered reindeer onesie, putting my worries aside, for now, I’m in a hurry to get ready for bed, only to discover I’ve spent the entire day wandering around the packed motorhome park and most of Falesia, smiling, waving and chatting to anyone who’s listen with my top, inside out! 

Today’s certainly been an interesting one, with a definitely theme running through it, so to speak!

Thursday, 21 December 2017


Yesterday, was a nightmare! 

It didn’t start well, I dropped a whole carton of eggs and spent the morning mopping up egg mucus from the floor. Then I went to put the radio on, silence, I located the fuses and using a knife opened the cap, I swapped the tiny cylinder shaped bulb with the one that powers the water pump, the radio flicked on for a sec and then silence again, so it’s defo the fuse. Seems the ‘cigarette socket normal plug thingy’ is at fault, at least I know it’s not a more serious issue with the ships’ mother board!

Making do with just a coffee for brekkie, I realised that I’m actually going to have to do something today. I started to pack up, fairy lights off the roof, up-lighters up routed, roof down, under-van cooling beer removed and all stuffed in the boot. 

Now, when I actually need to do something I’m ‘like a bull-in-a-china-shop’, I’m all or nothing, comatosed sedation for weeks then Usain Bolt on speed, no middle ground, no grey area, that’s me. 

In my frenzied pack-up, I drop a gin bottle, it cracks and pours over the floor, which I’d have mopped and squeezed out for later, if is wasn’t for the remnants of egg snot still swilling around. It really is going to be one of those days! 

A quick ‘damsel in distress’ post on various FB motorhome groups and I got a couple of quick replies, one of which was, ‘get some fuse wire and make a link‘, he’d presumed that I’d forgotten to pack a tiny fuse but remembered to pack a roll of fuse wire, an electrics’ tool box and an ‘Electronics for Dummies’ manual! I ‘liked’ his post and scrolled down. Thankfully, some were more helpful

I start the van, ph
ew, first time, always a worry when you’ve been using every outlet to charge somwthing on, and we’re ready to go, we get unexpected and lovely waves from The Clogs, Cambridge Caravan and his invisible wife, and The Peebottles, no Hymers though, they’d left suddenly after the dog incident. 

I shouted my good-byes out the window and beeped the horn to the tune of ‘Nanna, nah, nah, nanna, nanna, nah, nah, nah, nah’, and tried to leave via the no exit, turning back on myself, more waves and beeps, I found the exit and successfully left my airport flight pathed, river view home, feeling a teeny weeny bit teary eyed, if I’m honest.

First stop, North of Faro to a small town, Loule, searching for a place called Camperserv, owned by an ex- RN engineer Brit, Tommy from Birmingham.

Portugal, it seems, is currently  investing heavily in their infrastructure and there are tonnes of building projects going on everywhere. I end up in a half-finished ‘Zone Commercial’, that’s Portuguese for shopping area, but my sat nav’s got me driving through acres of green fields and a river. I passed a beautiful white domed chapel on a hill, several times, and wish’d we could’ve stopped for a stroll, but I’m on a fuse finding mission. 

Still no Camperserv, but I do spot a Leroy Merlin, another option suggested by my FB plea, so I park up. 

It’s like a massive Ikea/Homebase type store, but with helpful staff. They do have a fuse, but it’s only 2 amp, I need 10, so I leave, to find Brummy Tommy. 

Several circuits of Loule’s millions of newly half constructed, ‘Zone Commercials’, I eventually find the right place, but they can’t help either, the man definitely not Brummy Tommy, as I completely understood everything he said, but he was very helpful, and gave me three more places to try, he even drew me a mapp.

Coperal, ‘vacant stares’, Iper Tronica, ‘no-one there’ and lastly, Quateira Auto’s, bingo, well, sort of, they’d 15 and 20 amps, fed-up and tired I decided I’d take a risk and get three 15 amp fuses, surely 5 amps can’t make that much difference? The lovely chap asked for €2s for all three, and when I could only find a €20 note, he said, ‘Free, Merry Xmas!’. Bloody love Portugal, when’s that ever happen in the UK, 46 years of shopping and I can hand on heart say, not ever!

Fuses in place, radio and water is now super-charged and I’m back in full action. It was gone 6pm and I’d only a small amount of daylight to find my next home, so I decided to head for Albufeira, as I’m half-way there already.

I arrived at Algarve Motorhome Park, it’s a really, really posh motorhome car park, with a reception area, showers, shit shoot, launderette, hot water, security gates, free wi-Fi and ONE space left, lucky me! 

Chek, the woollen hatted attendant, must be Portuguese, showed me my spot, they are huge gravel pitches, no river view though, but it’s safe and clean and only €12 for two nights, he’s given me a deal, as I’m fully fused and don’t need electric hook-up (EHU). 

I’m feeling inadequate, as I’m parked between two mega MHs, Concorde and Hymer, ‘eat ya chemical loos out’, these buses are brutts, called Jumbo and Coachman, I’m half expecting their garages to be holding a entire fleet of pristine VW T5s, rather than a poxy washing machine. 

To be honest, I’m pretty glad to be parked up again, ‘Mission Fuse’ took the whole afternoon, and C’s been stuck in the van all that time, to be fair he’s been pretty chilled out, think it’s the gin fumes though.

With the Vatican’s anti-climatic ‘Finale’ watched, cheese and biscuits consumed, I’ve no energy to burn anything tonight, and a small gin and UHT milk, tonic’s long gone, we settled down for our first jet engine free night