Thursday 21 October 2010

Sponsored Walk

On Sunday we took part in a sponsored walk for St Gemma's Hospice in memory of Andrew Harris who spent the last days of his life in their care.  It was a fine afternoon with a cloudless blue sky and we walked and talked round Roundhay Park.

What else am I doing with my time

I'm really loving this new found freedom.  It has enabled me to spend more time in the garden; how can anyone be bored or feel low when they have a garden.  It needs constant tending, like a child, but usually responds to text book theory and doesn't answer back!  Planted some violas in tubs and wallflowers in front for Spring and Summer colour.  Wish my wardrobe was as easy to update.

I have returned to Pilates after a long break.  Signed up for a 6-week stint but miss the camaraderie of the other class.

Ellie has been a good companion for visiting relatives, shops and  library.  She has an opinion about everything and gives a good insight into life at her nursery.

Entertained ex-members of  the Talmud Torah PTA.   Yes, our children are all over 30 now but we continued to meet every month either in someone's house or go out for a meal.  Some refer to it as the bolbe (yiddish) club and we may, from time to time, put the world to rights or exchange information.

I have taken the plunge and acquired a new phone.  It's got more functions than I'll ever need or even learn how to operate but I'm getting there.

An ex-colleague phoned and I was surprised to learn that it was nearly their half term.  I am not missing preparing for open day, organising the careers roadshow or half termly reports.

Louis won a star award for 'making the right choices'.  It was Max who told us that Louis had his name called out in assembly and had to receive a ruler (not like when we were at school) from the headteacher in front of the whole school.  When asked by the Head why he was awarded the star, he said 'for helping my mum'.  As if!

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Another Vedding

Today it is 10/10/10 and it has been reported that this is a good day to get married and we are off to the wedding of Rochelle and David, Ronnie's cousin's daughter.
It was a beautiful service enhanced by the choir and the chazan, who is a young, handsome chap.
Rochelle made an elegant bride.

It was lovely to catch up with relatives and friends.  The speeches were entertaining, the vegetarian option was really tasty, the band were amazing and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Back to reality

Holidays must come to an end and we are missing Freya but lucky to live so close to our other grandchildlren.
Sunday lunch with Janet.  What a day for mishaps!   It absolutely poured down and Janet arrived later due to the state of the M62.  Beryl found she had lost her purse so dropped Vanessa, Janet and me off at Napa Bar and Kitchen while she retraced her morning to find her purse.  By this time we were starving and started to order only to be told that the gas had just gone off.   Well the outcome was better than we expected.  A lady had found  Beryl's phone in Tesco car park and handed it in.  Everything was still in it although soaked through from the rain.  However it restores your faith in human nature.  We managed to find something on the menu which didn't require gas and the chip maker was electric! 

Monday morning and the rain had cleared.  Everyone else was at school and work and I went for a walk to the park, which made me really feel retired.   The bright red virginia creeper on the wall of the Canal Garden was a typical feature of Autumn.

How did I ever have time to go to work?  This week I have had do see to Nails, Optician, Hair, Dentist, kids, gardening, cooking and cleaning.

Spain and Portugal

We have visited this area for many years, but always in early July and now found Ayamonte, the nearest town to our resort of Isla Canela Golf, really quiet in comparison. We picked up the key from Pablo in the next door apartment to ours which is spacious and well equipped with the advantage of overlooking the pool and water feature on the golf course.

 view from the balcony at night

Later that evening we returned to Faro airport but Ben phoned to say the plane would be 2 hours late. It was lovely to see them but by that time the car hire place was closed to add Ben as an additional driver. We drove back and didn't get to bed until 4.30 in morning. I give that time but it is quite confusing as Portugal keeps the same time as UK but Spain is an hour later and we keep crossing the border which is only 3 kms away.

Sat: We stocked up at the local supermarket with the unlikely name of Eroski and later on went to the beach at Isla Canela for a coffee allowing Emma to practise her spanish.  It became overcast and windy so we changed plans for staying on the beach and drove along to the harbour in Punta del Moral.

the playground!
On Sunday we crossed the bridge which spans the River Guardania, a natural barrier between Portugal and Spain.  This is the only way to drive across the river for many, many miles and the bridge was only built in the 1990s when Portugal hosted a european football tournament.  This allowed this area of Spain to remain a lesser known holiday destination.  From here you get a great view of the river and its salt flats.  Last time we crossed it was in darkness and there were police with guns on the border.

Our destination today was Monte Gordo, a former fishing village now a tourist resort with a casino.   We ate a good lunch and Ben and Emma went for a swim while we looked after Freya.

On Monday we went to Islantilla to put Ben on the car hire insurance, but the branch had closed down.  We witnessed a general strike protest rally consisting of a cavalcade of cars sporting flags and banners honking their horns.  We had previously come across them at the golf complex.   The visit wasn't entirely futile as we were able to purchase pizza and other bits for lunch.  The kids went off to the beach and I went with Ronnie to play golf.  More accurately, Ronnie played golf against an invisible opponent called Tiger Woods while I sat in the golf buggy reading Girl with Dragon Tattoo.  Emma is reading the swedish version which is half the thickness of mine, but we reckon that it's because some swedish references need to be explained to non-swedish readers.

The golf course is a pleasant location for a walk with its water features and wildlife - and Freya thinks so too.

 walking gives Freya a hearty appetite

On Tuesday we went to Tavira.  The architecture of this very old town is fascinating.

We then visited Olhao where there is a large fish market.

From here we went on to Faro airport to show Ben's license to the car hire people. 

On Wednesday we went up into the mountains on the spanish side.  We reached Sanlucar where it was really hot and had bean soup and sardines for lunch.

On Thursday, Ronnie and I went to vila real de Santo Antonio by ferry while the kids went to the park in Ayamonte which boasts a zebra, tigers and, Freya's favourites, the parrots.

Here too there is interesting architecture which strikes me as french in style with its ornate iron balconies.  The town had been destroyed in the tsunami which followed the Lisbon earthquake of 1755.  I am sure I read somewhere that the rubble from that quake was used as the block paving which is widespread in Portugal and annoys Ronnie.  On our return to Ayamonte we joined the kids in the park where we found that the parrot understands not only english, but swedish too.

All too soon the holiday has come to an end.  The sun tan will fade but our memories will remain.

The weather was terrible when we arrived in Leeds!

Monday 18 October 2010

Portugal and Spain

Ronnie has always yearned for a  holiday in a campervan and so, to get it out of his system, we have hired one from Faro airport and we are heading west.  It's Monday 20th September and our first port of call is a Lidl supermarket where we found the novelty of taking our purchases to the car park and putting them away in the fridge and cupboards quite odd yet practical.
We stopped at Armacao de Pera at Gale beach for a cup of coffee.

The weather is fantastic with a bright blue sky and we are getting along well in a confined space.
We spend Monday night at Alvor at sand dunes next to beach with group of mainly french campervanners.  We are self sufficient so we can stop and stay anywhere.

From here we make our way inland up the winding roads to the mountains.
We pass thermal spas on our way to the small town of Monchique where we walked up and down the steep, cobbled pavements and bought postcards although we found buying the stamps for them more difficult.

After picking up more supplies we followed the twisting road to Aljezur via Marmelete where the countryside is woodland; mainly pine, eucalyptus and oak.  We pulled in for elevenses along the way.  We parked right on the edge of a steep drop, although according to Ronnie we were miles away which gave us a great view down the mountains to the coast over fertile farmland. 
We had lunch at Carrapateira (praia de Armado) where loads of campervans had congregated from France, Portugal and Spain including a number of iconic VW vans.   Fit surfers sat on their boards like seals waiting for the next high wave.  We cannot believe how nice the weather is.  Collected some unusual shells and small stones which have a red ripple through them like the rocks in this area.
 an englishman abroad


 ...... and on to Sagres at the west of the Algarve.
Amazing views from this headland with its lighthouses and forts.  The guide books refer to the area as windswept but the weather remains perfectly calm with a cloudless sky.  We park overlooking the sea with other campervans and eat out for the first time at the Mar a Vista restaurant whose advertising states sobre uma vista deslumbrante, os paladares que nunca se esquecem which they translate to:  exhilarating view with unforgetable savors.

We awake after a good night's sleep on the comfortable, kingsized sleeping platform over the driver's cabin which is reached by a ladder. We find no problem climbing up but rather ungainly in descent. 

Wednesday morning sees us in Salema, one of the few remaining fishing villages, a resort recommended by Rebecca.  She is, as ever, spot on and we walk to the harbour and watch the fisherman gutting their catch and maintaining their equipment.  Their is a constant noise from the men discussions/arguments and the seagulls screeching.

Went shopping in Luz at a Baptisa supermarket and managed to buy stamps from a machine outside the post offfice.  Lunch in Lagos - Praia de Camilo - great views and lovely coves if you don't mind the 300 or so steps down to them.  Picked figs in  the car park.

.... and off to Praia de Rocha North Marina.  Watching the boats go by gave us the sensation of actually being on the river as we were parked so close to it.

Camped Campismo da Dourada at Alvor really just to empty chemical toilet and refill/empty water. Cost 17 Euros for night with electric point.  Just scrubland and mosquitoes; not a blade of grass to be seen. Ventured out to clubhouse for a game of darts. Give me offsite camping every time.

We considered the question would we do it again and the answer was a resounding yes.
Thursday: It had rained during the night but we had escaped without a mosquito bite.  At least the electricity supply allowed me to charge up my phone and camera as I didn't have leads to run off battery, and to use the kettle which we had (stupidly?) schlepped with us and the hair dryer.

After a grey but warm start to the day, we went back to the marina for lunch, after stopping off at a shopping centre where we saw some lovely homeware.  Set off to visit Ferragudo, the village on the opposite side of the river, which we had been contemplating for ages before we realised it was featured in a tourist booklet we had picked up.   It pictured a fort which is now a private residence.  
We shared a peach melba and found a postbox at long last.   Water taxis provided by the restaurants for their clients sped to and fro.

A cup of tea at Armacao de Pera and then drove to Quarteria so we would be near enough to Faro where the van had to be dropped off tomorrow.  Found a place with other vans at the very long promenade - non-stop 60s songs from club and noisyrevellers (mostly Brits) kept us awake.

Friday:  Dropped off van - horrific time trying to find the office without address. We felt the contrast from the quiet roads we had experienced to this busy city with its relatively large population, university and airport.

We picked up the hire car from the airport but to Ronnie's dismay there were no golf clubs left to hire as this is the busy season for golf.  We drove to Forum Algarve, a large shopping centre,  for Felafel and really thought we'd had our car stolen! 34 H turned out to be on the other side of the escalator.

Now we start the second stage of our holiday over the border in Spain. Can't wait to see baby Freya again - and of course Ben and Emma.

“The sea is their grave but this Memorial sculpture is, in many ways, a headstone for the lost trawlermen”

I have always been impressed by the architecture in the centre of the maritime city of Hull, especially the old buildings with their carving...