29/52 My Sunday Photo: 16/07/2017

The week before last we met some friends of ours from the UK in mid-Portugal. They were holidaying in Lisbon and we hadn’t seen them in quite a long time. Seeing as we were both in the country we found a halfway point and met for lunch.
It just so happened that the town of Beja, our meeting point, also had an amazing castle in it which we explored briefly before lunch. I am amazed at how many castles are in Portugal. They’re just something I didn’t associate with it.
my sunday photo
my sunday photo my sunday photo my sunday photo
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The Portugal Diaries #4

After very little sleep, my alarm went off at 4.45am UK time. Bleary eyed doesn’t even cover it. I got up and helped BattleDad sort our bags before he walked BattleDog. I got BattleKid up and dressed and we loaded the car back up, full to the gills. We set off at 5.25am to make our way out of the beautiful mountains of Northern Spain to head South, down the backbone of Spain to Portugal.

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The hills of Northern Spain

I had to admit the windy roads of the mountains did nothing for my stomach, making me reminisce about Tenerife. It took us over two and a half hours to get out of the mountains and find flat roads as we started to make our way to the A67, which we finally joined just above Osorno. To be fair we had gone through some amazing countryside, some of the likes we would never have expected for Spain.

We started searching for a services to stop at and grab some breakfast, but we soon discovered that Spanish services are not located at the side of the motorway. The first one we eventually found was more than 2 miles off the motorway! I walked BattleDog while the boys headed to the toilets before we finally sat down to bacon sandwiches (not the UK type) and a cuppa. The services were ok and we filled the car to ensure we had plenty to get us to the next one.

We had made that rule when we stopped outside Santander, and I was glad we had filled up there instead of hoping we’d have enough in the tank, as the journey out of the mountains used up quite a bit of fuel.

Bellies somewhat sated, we drove back the 2 miles to rejoin the motorway and carried on for another two hours. Somewhere before Valladolid, we diverted into a small town to fill up again with fuel. Here, an attendant filled the car, and BattleDad later wondered if she had put the right type of diesel into the car. More on that to come, keep reading.

Just outside this town, we eventually came across more motorway-type services so we decided to stop here for lunch and a toilet break for both us and the dog. The food here wasn’t great but it filled a hole. We didn’t need to fill the car as it hadn’t been long done. BattleDad said he’d carry on driving for a while longer before handing it over to me so he could get a snooze.

Literally minutes outside this services, the car went into restricted performance mode, we lost power and had a bright red engine warning light on the dash. Cue serious amounts of panicking from me. We hadn’t even passed Salamanca, had over 400 miles to go and all with a car full of belongs, dog and child. This is not what we needed right now. My panicking didn’t help the situation either.

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This sign for Portugal was deceptive. It was for the middle of Portugal, not the South where we were heading!

BattleDad had a diagnostic plug-in tool with him that linked to his phone to check the error and it said something to do with the Turbo. He cleared it and said we could probably carry on but keep the revs under 2k and the speed steady to reduce our chance of the turbo kicking in. We had been making really good time, I’ll say no more, and our ETA started extending now.

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A sure sign we were in Spain

An hour later we swapped over and I got my first taste of driving on the wrong side of the road. It was ok as it was motorway the whole way, so only two lanes and intermittent vehicles to worry about. We drove through some horrendous storms too as we headed South. We were really surprised as the saying “the rains in Spain fall mainly in the plains” was coming true.

After an hour BattleDad woke but I carried on, just hoping to get us to Tavira without any more hiccups. I drove us nearly 300 miles to the other side of Seville before we stopped for a toilet break. We decided not to eat as we were only an hour and a half from my parents place and I knew my Dad would be getting dinner ready for us.

BattleDad took over and just before we crossed the Spanish/Portuguese version of the Severn Bridge we got another repeat of restricted performance and red engine light. I wasn’t as worried this time as we were closer to Tavira but I was still worried. BattleDad cleared it again and we crossed the bridge into Portugal.

We came across a road block and found border patrol checking documents in some cars. Needless-to-say the UK number plate meant we were pulled over too. BattleKid was asleep and the border patrol office just checked our passports and sent us on the way. Had he opened the boot he’d have gotten a black surprise in his face.

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Nearly there…

We finally arrived into my parents place near Tavira at 6.15pm, after 13 hours on the road. Both exhausted and relieved we’d made it, I was so glad to get out of the car, unpack and sit down.

We were here, we’d arrived and our journey to start our new life in Portugal had come to an end, nearly 56 hours after we had left South Wales.

BattleDad, BattleKid and I were early to bed that night after a very long day and none of us arose until well after 9am, which is almost unheard of…..

To be continued….

Cath x

If you missed my previous instalments of The Portugal Diaries you can read Part 2 and Part 3 again.


Living Arrows 28/52

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth

Kahlil Gibran

In the last week we have the pleasure of visiting not one but two castles here in Portugal. I had no idea there were so many in Portugal, let alone within two hours of us.

The first we visited was in a town 20 minutes from us called Castro Marim. Castro Marim has two fort-type castles on opposite hills, one which is open to the public and one which isn’t. We had a lovely time wandering around, looking for dragons of course, and imagining what it was like to live there hundreds of years ago.

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Just taking a break from dragon hunting

We also visited a castle in a town called Beja which is 2 hours drive from us. We were meeting up with friends from Wales who were in Lisbon on holiday and who kindly offered to meet halfway. It was so good seeing M and his new fiancee P, who is lovely, and we spent a lovely hour wandering around the castle, hunting for dragons, before having a bite to eat and a coffee. I was blown away by this castle. And guess what? We passed another one in a town called Mertola which we are going to return to!

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Standing in the courtyard of Beja Castle

We also spent last Friday evening at the beach after BattleDad finished work. I still can’t quite believe that this is our life now; popping to the beach after work on Friday while it’s still hot is still something dreams are made of.

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Jumping the waves on Manta Rota beach

Linking up with Donna of What The Redhead Said. If you’d like to take part or see some other Living Arrows posts, please click the badge below.

Living Arrows

10 Things That Make Me Happy

I was tagged by the lovely Kirsty of Winnettes blog in the 10 Things That Make Me Happy tag. You can read Kirtsy’s post over on her blog. I’ve been so busy settling into a new life that I nearly forgot to take part. But I am finally getting around to it and here is my post.

  1. My Son

Although he drives me insane at times with tantrums tears and indecisions (I want it, I don’t want it, I want it), I love him dearly and can’t imagine my life without him now. He is at a great age and we are thoroughly enjoying watching him grow and develop. There are times he is an absolute angel and will kiss us and say “I love you”, and other times we’d like a refund. But he makes me so happy at times.

  1. My Husband

We have been together 17 years and married for 7 of those, and he makes me incredibly happy. We’ve been on some amazing adventures and they continue and he works so hard to provide us all with an incredible life that I couldn’t do a post like this without mentioning and thanking him. I just hope we are as happy in 17 more years together!

  1. our Dog

The BattleDog, the black beast. He has been our only dog for almost a year after we lost BattleDog #1 but we wouldn’t be without him in our lives. So much so there was no question about not bringing him with us to Portugal. He is a caring and fiercely loyal dog who would protect us with his life. He is so good and obedient and is a dream to walk and play with. I hope he is with us for many years to come.

10 things that make me happy
Picture captured by Donna of Sweet Whimsy Photography
  1. Beaches

I have to admit I used to hate the idea of the beach. Maybe it was because we lived far enough away from them that to appreciate your time at one, it meant an hour’s trek in the car and spending all day there to make the most of it. Well, since moving to Portugal we have several beaches within a ten minutes’ drive from us. And boy are they incredible. Clean water, white warm sand that stretches for miles and the sun to go with it. They are quite a bit different from the beaches of Wales or Ireland I can tell you and I’m loving every minute we spend on one.

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Kicking sand at Manta Rota
  1. Travelling

BattleDad and I have always enjoyed travelling and when BattleKid came along, we knew having a baby in tow wasn’t going to stop us. From his first ferry trip home to Ireland at 4 months old, to New York at two and a half, he is well travelled. We have a big USA road trip coming up in less than two months, with other holidays planned for later in the year. And we are already talking about possible destinations for next year. Travelling is in our blood and it is something that makes me very happy. New places, new people, new cultures, all ready to discover and just a plane ride away. What’s not to love?

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BattleKid at the World Trade Centre Memorial.
  1. Food

I love food and it makes me very happy. My Dad is a retired chef so food has always been a big feature on our lives, especially dinners. Whether it is a quick dinner or full on 3 course meals, we’ve always sat down as a family to eat our dinner together and it continues in the Battle Household. And since moving to Portugal two months ago I’m enjoying food even more. Eating out is quite cheap and the quality of food we’ve received so far has been outstanding. Sometimes a nice meal is all I need to put a smile back on my face.

  1. Shopping

Now when I say shopping I don’t mean the food type. I mean the retail therapy type. There is nothing nicer than a few hours to yourself, browsing the shops for a bargain or discovering a fabulous dress or top in a shop you haven’t been into for ages. I’ve been loving clothes shopping since moving to Portugal as I can now buy summer clothes with no worries as to whether I am going to get the weather to wear them. It’s guaranteed. My whole wardrobe has taken on a much different look and I’m really happy about that.

  1. Writing

I could not have ignored writing when doing this post as my blog depends on it. And the blog wouldn’t exist if I didn’t enjoy writing. I used to write 18 A4 pages, back and front, essays for English when studying for my Leaving Certificate (Irish equivalent of A-Levels). My English teacher would dread setting essays for homework for the weekends as she knew what was coming with me. But she read every one of them and when I was leaving school she gave me card which said, “what am I going to do on a Sunday evening without your essays to read and mark”. I bet she enjoyed them more after I left, haha.

  1. Films

I love movies. BattleDad and I were regular cinema goers before BattleKid came along and always enjoyed the latest new films to be released. With no babysitters near us, we’ve had to rely on waiting for films to be released on DVD to watch new ones but still enjoy discovering old films to watch which we might have missed before on the likes of Netflix. Snuggling up on the sofa, with popcorn, chocolate and a drink is my ideal Saturday night.

  1. Music

If there is one thing I could not live without it would be music. I love music. I like a wide genre of music but in particular I love dance and trance music. Not your most common choice but there are so many songs from the late 90’s and early 00’s that hold special memories with them. Things like Komodo by Mauro Picotto, 10 in 01 by Members of Mayday, In and Out of Love by Armin van Buuren and No Good Start the Dance by The Prodigy, the song that started it all for me. If I’m feeling a bit down or in a ‘meh’ mood, putting on my favourite playlist on Spotify which features these and many more is sure to perk me up and lighten my mood.

So, there you have it, 10 Things That Make Me Happy. I hope you enjoyed reading this and finding out maybe one other thing you didn’t know about me. Now I’d like to tag the following bloggers to take part:

Ruth from Its Just a Phase

Lisa from Bad Mummy

Nicola from Lady Nicci

Muuka from Another Drop of Ink

Laura from The Mamma Fairy

Louise from Tattooed Lady with a Baby

Eimear from Chirps From a Little Red Hen

Lyra from This is Where I Blog

Clare from Mumsy Midwife

Fern from Mum Conventional

10 things that make me happy

28/52 My Sunday Photo: 09/07/2017

Last Sunday we ventured out and headed to a place called Castro Marim, as recommended to us by BattleDad’s aunt. She had told us of two castles or forts, one of which you could visit and she thought it would be a great place to go dragon hunting. And we weren’t disappointed.
The two forts are enclosed within walls. The one we visited had towers, castle-like buildings, horse stables, a beautiful church, various buildings and battlements you could walk on. Up there we saw great views as far as both Vila Real de Santo Antonio in Portugal and Ayamonte in Spain across the river. We visited the museum inside and saw some amazing artefacts. And if you are wondering, yes we did find a dragon but that is a tale for another day.
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The second fort of Castro Marim
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Looking out across the salt pans towards Ayamonte
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Just taking a break from dragon hunting
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