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.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Naturists And Lagos’ Azure Atlantic Ocean

Itchy wheels, which means Boxing Day, we are off, plus the red sand In Alvro, means it’s probably best we leave sooner than later, before the dog’s turned completely orange. 

A second man, from the ‘Fight Club’ caravan, not the guy who checked us in, unless his teeth grew back, shouts at me, as I wait for the tap, ‘You’re not leaving today’, which I find a bit odd. This chap’s been hounding my van twice a day, since we arrived asking, ‘How many nights, money, money’. Each time, I’ve explained, his mate with the cheeky grin, checked us in for 4 nights and I’d paid on arrival. He says, ‘No, no, no, ticket, ticket’, I point to my name, reg and number 4 on the sheet attached to his clipboard, it’s not tricky, there’s only one sheet and show him my 4 tickets, receipts. However, this doesn’t seem to deter him, and he’s back each morning and afternoon with the same request, each time we go through the same routine. Yet today, he’s standing there, hands on hips, telling me I’m not to leaving today.

I loaded the van with water, I’m not really sure where we’re going, a bit more west towards Lagos, I’d loosely planned in my head. The vet’s appt is first thing on Friday and then we need to start heading back home. it would be good to be fairly close to the surgery, as it won’t prolong the stress for too long, mine, not Cs!

He’s still vomiting though, woke me at 5.56am this morning, retching, it’s just liquid, the steak’s stayed down and passed through as a Bear Grylls ‘Grade 2’, so he’s getting there, although still not 100%, I’ll keep a close eye on him as he’s got to swllow a tape worm tab on Friday, or we ain’t getting back into the UK, mmmm ...........

A quick search on a camping App, suggested several wild spots along the coast, so I pop one of these into the sat nav, cool, it says 19 miles, so 25 min should do it.

An hour and a half later, due to a slight detour passed Bensafrim, the sat nav froze and I spent 30 mins on the N120, singing full blast to Alanis Morissette, ‘Ironic, don’t ya think, heading for Aljezur, which is in the opposite direction to Lagos.

We finally end up at the suggested wild camp in Burgau, at the spot next to the beach slightly west of Lagos. I drove through several residential areas to get here, and saw plenty of Xmas rubbish overflowing in bins, which made me a little homesick, but not one human anywhere or car parked on side roads or driveways. Where is everyone, it’s like a ghost town, yeah, I know it’s Boxing Day, but back at home I’m sure people still leave their houses, walk places, park cars, perhaps the Portuguese over winter in Holland and stay in the all the MHers home that are here

This car park has one other MH, NL reg, a chap’s sat outside tinkering with his bike, it’s really sloped though, and he’s got the best spot, it’s flat. I try and find another pitch, but I’m not too happy, there are two cafes/bars close by, so it may get a bit noisy at night, I decide to try the next place, a bit further west.

As the roads are so empty, prob because it’s Boxing Day, I think a quick rekkie now of the vets, would be a good idea, saves time on Friday, I’ll leave everything; packing-up, shower, water load-up, petrol and essentials; Walkers and wineys, to the last minute. 

Vet’s and parking now located, I’m feeling super productive and save the area code for the vet in the sat nav, which to be fair, means feck all, as that thing’s gotta mind of it’s own. It’s taken me 4 years to recognise the instructions I need to totally ignore. I spent the first year in this van coming off motorways to avoid ‘congestion’, to then being directed back on to the motorway I’d just come off as the ‘congestion’ had magically disappeared. 

It also likes to intermittently reset to ‘home’, so often mid-journey I find myself heading back in the opposite direction, arriving back at home before I’ve arrived at where I was going. It’s also ever so slightly too slow, as to where it thinks we are and where we actually are, now this really is no biggy, when you are on a long, straight motorway stretch, only comes into it’s own, on a complicated roundabout, I’m never really sure which exit it is I need, as my sat nav location has me still just entering the ruddy roundabout. I’ve usually gotta go round it a few times in order  
for it to catch up with my exact location, by his time, I’m dizzy as hell, and the dog’s squished up against the gas bottle cabinet 

To be fair, it pretty much got me to most places in the S. France, this summer and it’s not done too badly here, so I shouldn’t be too harsh. I’ve just learnt, if Istick to simple routes, re-set it every time I turn the engine on and off, double, triple check and then check once more the ‘find’ settings and not to 100% believe the directions it’s giving me, I more or less get to where I’d planned. Although, today’s total freeze, is a new quirk, which I need to make note of.

The second spot suggested by by the App, I simply can’t find, sat nav says I’m on the right road, but I don’t see the sea or a car park, so I head for a little town close by called Salema. 

It’s a pretty little fishing village again, but much,much smaller than Alvor, parking is on the sea front, but it’s only cars no MHs/campers, so I’m not sure if I can wild it here. I really don’t want to be moved on in the middle of the night. So, I head on up a steepish road away from the sea, and per-chance spot a sign for, ‘Salema’s eco-camp’, with nature activities, whatever they are. 

I park up, it’s open, I fancy a bit of luxury hot water and EHU, as the sun’s disappeared, so decide here will be good for the last 3 nights in Portugal. 

I’m quickly booked in, and given a map with two crosses on it, not sure if that’s where I can or can’t park, who knows, I’ll find out soon enough. 

This site looks tiny on entry, but once I start driving around it’s really huge, lots of different layers called ‘Zanes’, that’s Portuguese for zones, these different ‘zanes’ are in layers, climbing up high out of the steep valley side. 

In the summer I’m usually cursing these types of sites, as I always arrive late and get allocated the last spot, next to the shit shoot, or up in the outta Hebrides 10,000 miles from the  losers toilet block. However, being that it’s winter, this place is almost completely empty except, of course for the rest of the Dutch population, not camped up in Faro.

I drive round this place, I’m not joking, for the best part of an hour, parking up, then changing my mind, Zane 11’s too empty, Zane 4’s too busy, Zone 7s camping only so no electric, no sun Zane 20, no view Zane 3, no WiFi Zona 9, I finally decide on a spot in Zane 26, high up and south facing, there are 3 other vans closish, but the clutch needs a break and a small group of MHers have gathered at a loo block with bunting, waving a checkered flag, so I take the hint and pitch-up.

I’ve got a decent enough view not sea, but as it’s an eco-camp with Nature activities, trees and eco stuffs everywhere. I walk the dog round the site wishing I’d changed my flip flops to trainers, as it really is incredibly steep, no wonder the clutch started to smoke, the dog’s started to eat grass again, so I’m presuming he’ll vomit soon, I let him though, as he’s clearly wanting to get rid of what’s irritating him 

Down at the entrance area, it’s eerily quiet, a few blocks are closed, but those open are completely empty, not a sole, no-one washing pot and pans, no kids screaming, no queues for the showers, no teens hogging hairdryers, it’s actually perfect camping conditions, although I expect, in the summer it’s heaving. 

I pop to the loo as a solo, I have to take the dog with me everywhere, that poor thing, must have visited more ladies loos than any dog in the entire world. Although he does like to spread himself across the floor, I suspect the tiles are cooling on his tummy, I thank our lucky stars, I don’t get to use the men’s loos, although these seem to be unisex. 

Unfortunately, the bar and restaurant are closed, but there’s a large notice in the loo block saying they are both ‘Open New Year’s Eve For Evawong’, lucky lady.

On our way back to the van, and hiking up into the stratosphere that’s ‘Zane 26’, I spot a rather strange sculpture of a naked torso, how odd, however, it does provide me with a quick Instagram/Boomerang vid/early retirement plan/hilarious one liner/photo opportunity with the dog, we walk a few yards further up, and then see the Naturist sign, ah the nature activities.

Back at the van, I do a discreet scan at everyone I pass sitting on their pitches, thankfully it’s pretty easy to check whether they’re naturists, they’re not, phew. Maybe the sites’ only naturist during the summer months, when it’s so hot some people don’t like wearing clothes, or perhaps it only happens at the weekends, which is fine with me, we’re leaving on Friday.

I bought some sausages from the Intermarche in Alvor and some bread, I thought it was on offer due to the sesame seeds, but it feels a bit hard packing it. I fancied a sausage sandwich tonight, thought I’d give the hob a miss though, and BBQ them.

After the sarnies, which were fine, even with stale bread, it’s ‘Chicago’ again, love a good musical, whilst listening to the heavy rain hit the pop-top, bliss. I remember I’ve left the rug, chair, fairy lights, BBQ, laundrette bag and dirty washing-up outside, I’m zipped up in my onesie and woollen shoe-socks, and don’t fancy getting wet, they’ll be dry in the morning, if not, hopefully someone’s nicked them. 

I checked the time, before I switched off the light, blimey, it’s only 9pm, I’ve not gone to bed this early since I was about 4yo, in real life, at this time, I’d normally be making 3 Nutella and peanut butter pancakes with sliced banana, it’s the healthy option. 

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.