Sunday, 29 March 2015

Stones and Sand

The beach beckons. We had our first full submersion of 2015 in the sea at Alvor yesterday and, as it was National Cleavage Day, I was pleased to be able to do my bit by getting the crepey Aussie chest out. Hugo loves the beach and carries on like a nut case whenever his paws touch the sand. Not so the swimming part though and we have to physically dunk him in to try to get him to have a cool off in the sea.

We were excited to find a few more megaliths outside Silves and had a trip out to Alcalar to check out the chambered tombs. They've been reconstructed and are quite impressive.
A vision in white
out of bounds
no you can't go in
Hot Neolithic man action
Eek my wee fee is going nuts so I'll sign off for now.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A Magical Meeting

The wifi finder said JJ's something or other. 'I bet that's my old mate JJ the magician'. They had not seen each other for a few years but it turned out JJ was parked two vans away in a fabulous classic Hymer and the two chaps got together to chew the veritable fat. 

Our sudden decision to drive to Silves turned out to be a fortuitous one as we met JJ and his friends Ann and John from Northern Ireland, had a gorge walk to see our first Portuguese standing stones, and discovered the loveliness of Silves. And Hugo fell in love with JJ.
JJ, Graham, Ann and John

the classic
 

Silves Stones

Our first Portuguese standing stone
neolithic tomb
a bit phalloir
Driving through Amorosa (which means lovely in Portuguese), we passed Casa Troll and knew we must be heading in the right direction. 'Ah yes, a healing centre on the left'. Soon we came to a sign showing we had reached the Alignments of Vilarinha. There are four standing stones along the trail and each is carved with different designs, some of which we could hardly make out due to the centuries of weathering. There were also a couple of intriguing tombs along the way that we weren't expecting.
A little troll-like himself
It was third time lucky as we had been on two other searches for megaliths, both of which had been totally fruitless (apart from the lemon I secretly picked off a tree). Perhaps it was the boat with the Eye of Horus called 'Bom Fortuna (good luck) we saw in Olhao that helped us out.
Bom Fortuna
a road well travelled

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Here comes the sun..and Fado

peeping eclipse
A small tear peeped over my eyelid as I listened to a song called Kilkelly on Mike Hardy's Folk podcast. Not being the type to burst into tears at the drop of a chapeau I blamed the eclipse and the fact we had arrived in Portugal, home of the Fado. 

Looking through the sky light we had a fabulous view of the eclipse as it conveniently showed itself in a break of the clouds. The beach at Manta Rota was a perfect spot for Hugo to have a run and we found a mermaid's purse in the sand - a good luck sign to match the eclipse we hope. 

Next stop Tavira for the musical theme of the day to continue. There is a new Fado project (Fado com Historia Associacao Cultural) where you can learn about its history and hear some songs - £5 for a half hour. Although brief it was a good taster for our evening activity, a Fado evening at a local restaurant. Both singers and guitarists were extremely talented and Mr Fluffy is now suffering from overeating a yummy squid stewy thing.
Fado com Historia
hot Fado action

Hugo is enjoying his food as well and we think he may be putting on weight. His face was a picture a couple of days ago when, in a spurt of energy he bounded up to a little wall and over the edge into a fountain about a foot deep. Great merriment was had as we watched him learn that, yes, he can swim, a talent he was previously unaware he possessed. He has been a little keen to avoid anything watery ever since.
spot the Dickie behind the tulip tree

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

El Rocio

The wide dusty streets are a little reminiscent of the towns of far west NSW near the Warrumbungle mountains (where my grandparents grew up) that I visited as a child. The main difference is the gigantic pilgrimage church which over a million peregrinos visit each Easter..... and perhaps the shops selling flamenco dresses and ponchos......and the tapas bars.......oh well there are gum trees, wide streets, verandas, dust and heat. 
Church of El Rocio


I'm a wide street

no kookaburras in these gum trees


El Rocio is on the edge of the Donana National Park and is great for birdwatching if you're into that sort of thing. From Dickie we looked out over the lake where flamingos paddled alongside horses and sand flies. No on could say the place was size-ist. 
spot the Dickie

view from Dickie with a raindrop on camera

The rain came in overnight and turned the streets to mud so we headed off to La Rabina to visit the monastery there. We carried Hugo around the museum (he was heavy but well behaved) and another reminder of childhood came when we saw the replicas of Columbus's ships the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. We learnt about these at school and I've always liked the musical quality of the three words strung together.

After a night in Moguer we will be in Portugal in an hour or so. A new country - how exciting. Looking forward to becoming fluent in yet another language....not. 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Getting Jiggy With a Couple of Black Madonnas

Apologies for the radio silence - Graham's new laptop has died and we have been along the coast from Nerja to San Lucar north of Cadiz, and up in the mountains of Andalucia where wee fee is not fabulous. 
view from Dickie of the coast north of Nerja

There is not much to say about the coast apart from the fact it is lovely and sunny, has great seafood, and has lots of English enclaves along the way, especially between Nerja and Estepona. We discovered a lovely spot at Benarraba thanks to a chap called David we met in La Cala de Mijas. It's a white Andalucian village with divine views over the mountains and the motorhome parking has 5 spots for vehicles, each with its own water tap and emptying facility. We stayed for a couple of days and met Aiden and Ann, a couple who have a a social networking company for those who want to improve their language skills by talking to people from other countries. It's called Speaktalkchat.com . 
Jiggy looking suspiciously like the museum's Wheel of the Year
not the best photo of a Black Madonna

It is here that we completed the 500 piece zodiac jigsaw which you will see pictured. I was sure there were pieces missing but we were triumphant! We ran into Aiden and Ann again at Sabinillas (aka Britain by Sea) and Mr Fluffy whipped out his ancient bicycle tyre fixing kit to give Aiden a hand repairing a flat. He loves an excuse to get his kit out! They have been set the task of doing the jigsaw next.
Spot the Dickie - Benarraba


Graham with his kit out, and Aiden


Before heading off to the Puerto de Gelves in Seville, where we are now, we spent a couple of days in Sanlucar de Barrameda where we came across not one but two Black Madonnas and had probably the best meal we've had so far - a rice and lobster dish which had us scraping the bottom of the pan. Quite a treat. 
boys on the beach at Sanlucar

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

a Dead Asus

What's with men jogging in budgy smugglers?

We have been a bit quiet lately as Graham's new Asus laptop has died and we've been in the hills around Ronda in Andalucia with no wee fee for a few days. There may be a short hiatus while we sort    A laptop solution out. Apologies to aficionados of this thrilling blog.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

A Good Chit'On, and a welcome Tummy Tickle

There's nothing Graham enjoys more than a good Chit'On. I saw it on the shelf in the supermarket at Las Negras, a stunning seaside village invaded by dread-locked youngsters and bespectacled motor homers. Not a bad drop for around 2 euros.
Mr Fluffy enjoying a good Chit'On

Cabo de Gato was the next stop where we had a couple of days on the beach, eating seafood and enjoying the views. It's a great area, not at all built up like other areas of Spain, and the climate is generally very dry and windy. The beach went on forever and Hugo particularly enjoyed rolling in all sorts of rotting fish and bird excrement. The fishing boats are painted, one with an image of the Virgin Mary.
Mary on a boat

Night view of Cabo de Gato
enjoying tummy tickles in Cabo

From here we popped down to Roquetas de Mar and parked by the beach of a couple of days. Being the only Brits in a sea of German motor homes we thought we may feel a bit left out but they were extremely friendly and showed us where the facilities were (one chap cycled with Graham to locate the dunny emptying point a few blocks away). We even had a chap come to the door selling various veggies and of course the pan van man who comes to sell the daily bread.

Earlier in the week there had been over a hundred vans at the parking place so the police moved them on but luckily things had quietened down by the time we arrived. Roquetas is a touristy town with a long promenade by the beach dotted with the occasional palm tree.
Sporting a new hat in Roquetas

We've just spent a couple of nights by the marina in Almerimar - very chilled out - and we'll be heading off today in the direction of Portugal.