You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth
Last week was another quiet one in the Battle House as we sheltered from the hot sun during the day before our routine afternoon swims before dinner. However, on Saturday morning we ventured into Tavira market with my parents to get spices, for a homemade curry mix, and some meat supplies for our first barbecue of the summer.
BattleKid spotted something, while munching on a sweet given to him by the spice lady, and shouted “oh look mummy, pumpkins”. Thanks Cindarella. He also found himself a nice seat that was just the right size for him outside, as we wandered through the car boot stalls outside.
On Sunday morning he decided to tell both BattleDad and I a story and regaled us with a tale of witches and dragons, while a car was involved. This is him doing a “Rawr” and driving the car!
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Our second full week in Portugal saw BattleDad heading to Paris for work to be on his clients site. I hadn’t expected him to be in Paris until the week after but he had to go both weeks which was a bit of a pain. So, while getting used to driving on the wrong side of the road, BattleKid and I took it easy at my parent’s place.
We visited Gran Plaza for some shopping where we discovered a Tiger ride. BattleKid loved it and it is much better value than the other kids rides they have there.
I also finally got word that our decking was finished so we could access our home. On the Wednesday I collected the keys and my Mum and I got stuck into cleaning it and getting it ready for our belongings arriving from the UK on the Friday.
You are probably all wondering what our new place is like. Well, we haven’t rented a house, mainly because long-term rentals are very, very hard to come by, especially in the Algarve. Most rentals are short-term, and during the summer months, so landlords can capitalise on the busy summer months. You can’t blame them. There are also larger taxes placed on landlords who do long-term rentals so it is more tax efficient for landlords to capitalise on the summer months only. Which is not great news if you are moving to Portugal and want to rent a house/apartment.
Having found this out, we knew our options were limited. We can’t get a mortgage yet until we build up our credit rating here in Portugal and we couldn’t afford to buy something outright either, not for a few years. So, we decided to buy a static holiday home and have sited it on a very nice holiday park only 10 minutes’ drive from my parents. We figured that a lot of people in the UK live in a caravan or static while they build their house, so why couldn’t we! The only difference is we will be living mostly outdoors, hence needing a deck built, and it will be for 2-3 years while we save enough money to buy outright.
This option also gives us a chance to decide if Portugal is really right for our family. If not, we can move on and have the option of keeping the home, and either letting family use it as a holiday base, or renting it out to cover the annual ground rent. It probably sounds mad to some of you, but it gives us the flexibility to settle in, decide if this is where we want our forever home, and it’ll always be ours. We will have no mortgage once our house in Wales has sold (we currently waiting on an exchange date from our solicitors), our monthly outgoings will be next to nothing, our ground rent is paid annually, so we are sorted until January, and we will be saving a huge amount of money each month. After 2-3 years, and adding our savings from our house sale to what we save in the meantime, we will hopefully be able to buy a nice villa (with a pool!) outright and remain mortgage free.
As well as providing a better, outdoor life for BattleKid, and having access to better education than the UK, our other main reason for moving to Portugal was to press reset on our financial lives. Portugal is a country that is cheaper to live in and to be able to be mortgage free in a few years’ time with a nice villa to show for our efforts will be amazing. The big red reset button has been well and truly pressed. Another advantage is if we don’t like Portugal for some strange reason, we will have substantial savings behind us to move on, either back to Ireland or the UK, and even there, be mortgage free with a holiday home in the sun.
So, this is what our new home and decking looks like.
It has two bedrooms which is enough for the three of us. The garden has fencing all round to keep it secure for BattleDog and has ample room for both him and the boy to run around in. We still have some gardening work to do to get rid of the sandy gravel and stones but that’s coming soon.
Our holiday park is located outside a small village and has an almost rural setting. We have a pool on site, a bar/restaurant and a children’s playground. It is only 10 minutes to my parents and only 15 to Tavira itself so we are not far from anywhere. The only thing is you NEED a car to be able to get anywhere. Hence my worry about the Land Rover, which remained in Faro for the whole two weeks BattleDad was away in Paris!
So there you have it. A bit unconventional, but it will do us for the moment and is only temporary. Do you think we’re mad yet?
To be continued…
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth
This week we haven’t really be out and about much. We dropped my nephew to the airport on Tuesday after having him visit for a week. Apart from that I have to admit we’ve been mostly staying indoors with the air con on, to escape the 30º plus heat we’ve had here in Portugal. I can see why so many of the retirees return to the UK for July and August.
We’ve been chilling as I’ve said, not doing much, and I’ve been doing some research for our forthcoming USA road trip. BattleKid did discover “wind” this week in the form of my fan! I ended up buying him one of his own on Saturday for fear he might break mine!
He also got a surprise in the form of a magnetic blackboard/whiteboard which I’d bought ages ago in the UK and had shipped down with all our stuff. He’s been enjoying a small blackboard his Nanna bought him so I thought it was time to bring it out. However, I discovered it was missing all the magnetic numbers and letters, the main reason I had bought it. Cue me desperately trying to find some on Amazon that would ship to Portugal so we can continue with his learning. They’re hopefully arriving later this week.
And of course, after our usual afternoon swim, dinner one evening this week was much-loved spag bol and it went down a treat as you can see. Not a very exciting week but I still managed one or two pictures of BattleKid.
If you missed last week’s Living Arrows post (30/52) you can read it again.
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Well we’ve been in Portugal for eight weeks and it finally feels like we are starting to settle into our new life. But the last few weeks haven’t been without their dramas either! For the first couple of days, we relaxed in my parents’ house, pottering into Tavira once or twice for shopping. It was all about getting over the mammoth drive for mum and dad and wondering if our Land Rover was still sick or not.
We got into a routine with BattleDog of walking him regularly to toilet him as my folks don’t have an enclosed garden for him to be free in. Theirs is open so regular walks were necessary, not that he was complaining. BattleKid often joined me on his bike, and found a great run-off for himself near my parents’ house. I’d stop him at the top of this short hill, checking no cars were about. After a thumbs up from me, he would get a run off and free wheel down with feet up. The neighbours were all very impressed with his skills, I can tell you!
On cooler days, we also visited the playground in my parent’s park and let him burn off some steam. However, we soon found out that evenings were off limits. The playground is located beside a very small lake, and in the evenings the mosquitoes come out in their droves so unfortunately it was off limits after 5pm.
The Sunday after we arrived in Portugal we ventured a bit further and discovered a small town called Cachopo. My Dad had spotted an ad in The Portugal Newspaper, an English paper, which mentioned the start of a festival in Cachopo, which is located in the hills above Tavira. The road up is quite windy and remined me of the roads in Tenerife. We made our way through some stunning scenery and found ourselves in a lovely quaint little village. There were plenty of cars and coaches about so we knew we were in the right place.
The festival was on its first day and we strolled through the stalls where the locals were selling all manner of handmade things. From cheese and bread, to stools, candle holders and even knives, the craftwork was amazing. At the top of the town was a square where they were setting out for music and there was also an open-aired restaurant. We didn’t stop for something to eat and instead strolled back down the town past the stalls where I got a candle holder for me parents as a present and a little stool for BattleKid. And they weren’t expensive either.
We walked around the town and my mum went into the church in the village which looked lovely from the outside. BattleKid initially wanted to follow my parents in but in the darkness of the entrance he changed his mind so I just admired it from outside. Cachopo is a lovely little village with cobbled streets, typically bright doors and all the quaintness you’d imagine of a small Portuguese town. All of us commented on how lovely it was as we made our way back down to Tavira.
On the drive back, we had our first road kill. A snake! And not a small one either as we all felt it in the Land Rover, so you can imagine it wasn’t small by any stretch of the imagination. Right there I said there is no way I can live that far up if there are large snakes about.
BattleDad had warned me of some wildlife I should be prepared for but I had hoped to avoid things like snakes for a while yet. BattleDad’s aunt, who has been living in Portugal full-time for over five years, has so far managed to not see one so I was kind of hoping I’d have her luck. Yeah right! But again, the scenery on the way back from the hills was stunning and BattleDad was already scouting some dirt trails to take his bike up!
While BattleDad was working during the week after we arrived, I went into Tavira with my parents a few times, enjoying the sunshine and familiarising myself with the place once again. Tavira is such a lovely town. It hasn’t been commercialised like the Western Algarve so it still very traditional and Portuguese.
At the end of our first full week in Portugal, once the Saturday arrived, we decided to head East and visit Vila Real de Santo Antonio, which borders Spain across the river inlet. It is a beautiful town, with white-washed buildings interspersed with colourful ones. When we arrived, and finally sorted out paying for parking, we headed towards a square and there was a market in place. Market stalls seem to be quite popular, especially at the weekend, and again the stalls were full of homemade goods, a lot of cork produce (did you know over half the world’s cork is produced in Portugal), fresh fruit and vegetables, and homemade foods.
We strolled through one of the main shopping streets before finding a café beside the marina for a drink and cake. We then admired the various boats and yachts moored in the marina before heading back to the car.
We decided to head towards a town called Alcoutim, where BattleDad had read there might be a castle to explore. However, 20 minutes outside of Vila Real, the red engine warning light came back on the car and we headed back to my parents’ place where we called Land Rover Assistance.
Our car troubles were not over and she was recovered to Faro for inspection. BattleDad and I then had to make our way to Faro Airport to collect a hire car and I finally admitted to him I was worried about driving on the left-hand side. I naively thought that since you were on the left of the car, everything would be in reverse, including the accelerator, clutch and brakes. I told him this while we were waiting at Hertz and he couldn’t help but laugh at me. The peddles, it turns out, are in the same place as a right-hand drive car so your feet do exactly the same things, in the same place. I had been worrying for nothing! It still took me a while to remember that the gear stick was on my right instead of my left.
I’m gonna stick my neck out and admit something quite dumb. The Land Rover was recovered on Saturday with yet another red engine warning light and as a result we had to go to Faro Airport to pick up a hire car (thank god for Land Rover Extended Warranty and Assistance). We get there and I start panicking about having to drive a manual because I believed everything was opposite to the UK, gear stick, clutch, accelerator, the lot. I mention this to Battledad who peed himself laughing at me! Lo and behold I was panicking for nothing as the clutch and accelerator use the same feet as the UK, only the gear stick is on your opposite side. Cue more laughing from Battledad as I breath a sigh of relief. Turns out my mum had been wondering the same when we regaled the story to my folks…….
We raced back to Tavira once we had the hire car as we had dinner booked for 7pm at a lovely restaurant called O Castelo. It had been recommended to us by BattleDad’s aunt and I have to say it was such a nice meal after the day we had just had. The food was excellent, the portions were huge and sitting outside to have a meal in the evening was just what we had hoped for and part of the reason we had taken the decision to move to Portugal. Outdoor living was a huge factor for us, and here we were, finally starting to enjoy it. We will definitely be returning to O Castelo for a meal and I’ll be reviewing it at a later stage on the blog.
On the way back to the car after dinner we came across a live statue and at first BattleKid wasn’t too sure about him but soon put the money in his tin for him and shook his hand. This was the first time he’s seen a statue.
All in all, it was a hectic first week and a bit in Portugal and we were left in limbo and with some amount of uncertainty with regards to the car. It left us wondering if we had made the right decision bringing it to Portugal and considering whether or not we should ship it back to the UK and sell it rather than matriculating it and being left with it for 5 years (the rule of bringing a car in tax free).
To be continued….
If you missed any of my previous instalments, you can find them all in The Portugal Diaries.