The start of 2017 finds us once again in the Algarve region of Portugal for our 3rd  (though not consecutive) winter.

Christmas Lights!

Last winter was spent at home in anticipation of Nigel’s ankle surgery but that didn’t happen until the summer so we were determined to make the most of the motorhome this winter and managed to escape the dreary Lancashire weather on 11th December 2016.

Firstly though, towards the end of November we did a “shakedown trip” of the South of England to make sure Nigel was comfortable driving the motorhome post surgery and to establish how far he could walk without too much discomfort. 

It was a packed itinerary but very enjoyable, we took in Bristol’s SS. Great Britain exhibition, drove past Stonehenge, visited Salisbury Cathedral, then spent a couple of days exploring the Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth. We visited several friends on this trip, some of whom we hadn’t seen for 20 years. It was soon established that a longer trip to Iberia was a go-er!

Portsmouth Harbour
Mary Rose

The plan was to hurry through France and Spain and get to Cadiz where we hadn’t yet been and spend a few days there before making our way to Lagos in Portugal for a 10 night stay at a campsite where we were to meet up with boating/motorhoming friends Glen and Pete. 

Memorable moments of our journey through France and Spain…..

A troglodyte village in Spain, Baltanas

Mediaeval bridge near Palencia, Spain

Biarritz Sunset

A late afternoon dog walk in France

We enjoyed Cadiz, we found plenty of room in a car park close to the Port where many cruise ships and cargo ships dock. It was handy being so close to a city centre …. a ten minute walk, even less on a bike, to the maze of cobbled streets that make up the old town. We had marvellous views from the top of the cathedral’s bell tower and our ears rang when the carillon chimed each quarter of an hour. We searched for a pizzeria on the Sunday evening we were there, the shops were all still open and buzzing and although there were Christmas decorations and lights up, it was on a much less grand scale than the commercialism of Christmas that is impossible to escape from in the UK.

Our camping spot in Cadiz…not too salubrious
but very convenient!

Looking down from the Cathedral
bell tower

Interior of Cadiz Cathedral

Our next port of call was a couple of nights in Matalascanas, a secluded car park at the edge of the Coto Donana National Park. We love it here and almost had the 8 kilometre beach to ourselves. This was only slightly marred by a local knocking on our van door and telling us we were not welcome in the province since Brexit. Apparently he and some pals had been on a fishing trip to Kent and were told they were unwelcome so decided to reciprocate. We stayed anyway!

On 23rd December we arrived at our Christmas destination and had 10 nights here, the first five in the lovely, easy company of boaty friends Glen and Pete. Christmas dinner was a joint affair as we pooled resources and started cooking outside in the afternoon, carrying on in Bertie (their camper) when it got too cool to sit outside. A very pleasant day. We stayed for another few days after they left but we cut the umbilical chord and said goodbye to the comforts of unlimited water, shower blocks and washing machines etc on Monday 2ndJanuary.

Here be peregrines and
blue rock thrushes

Lagos town walls

Looking across towards Portimao

Since then we’ve been pottering around the same area of Lagos, overnighting in car parks or on beaches and we’ve been enjoying being able to walk together with the dogs for the first time in almost three years. We’ve had only one day of rain since we’ve been in Portugal and some days we’ve been walking in tee shirts! (Nothing else, just tee shirts!!!) The bird list continues to grow, so far we’ve seen Hoopoe, Peregrine, Dartford Warblers, Linnets, Storks and Egrets as well as the usual suspects.
Linnet bath time!

This morning on a bike ride towards Alvor we came across an idyllic wild camping spot at the edge of a lagoon where we intend moving to tomorrow, weather permitting.

Boxing Day Breakfast