The Portugal Diaries #7

The day after cleaning our new place, my parents and I ventured as far as Ayamonte, Spain. You can either drive across the border or go the route we did, by ferry. On the Portuguese side of the river is a town called Vila Real de Santo Antonio, which I mentioned in my previous Portugal Diaries post. This town is gorgeous. From the harbour you can take a ferry across the river to Ayamonte in Spain. It costs just €1.50 each way and you don’t need your passport.

portugal diaries 7
Tasting the air between Portugal and Spain
portugal diaries 7
Ayamonte, Spain

Ayamonte is a town, quite different to Vila Real with smaller coddles pedestrian streets filled with various shops, cafes and restaurants. We visited as my mum wanted extra wool from the Chinese shop there. Afterwards we had lunch in Vila Real, which really is fast becoming one of my favourite places to visit in Portugal.

portugal diaries 7
Vila Real de Santo Antonio

With BattleDad back from Paris later that Thursday, we met our movers at the place where we would be storing the bulk of our belongings for the next few years early the next morning. An articulated lorry and smaller van pulled in a few minutes after we did at 8am and we were met by the man who owns the place, Peter. He moved to Portugal in the 2000’s and was very friendly and welcoming. The two drivers were Aaron (lorry) and Darren (van) and both were really nice.

portugal diaries 7
Movers have arrived in Portugal!

They started off-loading our stuff and separating it into home stuff, coming to our new place, and storage stuff. We helped where they would allow, and also fished out one or two things that were marked for storage that we wanted with us. When the lorry first arrived I thought “I’m sure we didn’t pack a lorry full of stuff” but Aaron informed us we were his last load and our stuff only took up one third of his truck.

BattleKid spent most of the time in the car watching YouTube videos on BattleDad’s phone which was just as well as we saw our first bit of rain. By 11am the lads were finished, so they followed us from Sao Bras to our new place. The lorry didn’t come up to our park but that didn’t matter as everything we needed had been transferred into the van. The lads off-loaded our stuff and took a look around and were quite impressed with our new pad.

They were willing to put boxes into various rooms but we said to just stick everything in the living area as we’d sort it out ourselves later. We then went for lunch in the restaurant before thanking them and returning back to my parents. We didn’t unpack anything that day. We did also get a recommendation from Aaron for a good place for a meal and he was spot on. Thanks a million to him (if he ever reads this) for the recommendation of Xicken Piri-Piri!

We did start unpacking over the weekend and got through a good bit of stuff. In the process we discovered some boxes hadn’t quite made it to the home and three had to be returned to storage. But our new home was taking shape.

The next week BattleDad was back in Paris so I went up to our new place with my Dad a few times to unpack in between relaxing, blogging and walking the dog. On one particular evening, BattleKid and I made the mistake of crossing a sand path that had some water in it on our walk with BattleDog. The result was two pairs of very mucky feet. As we approached my parents decking I shouted for them to help and get water and towels. My mum panicked thinking something had happened to BattleKid but she and my Dad laughed their heads off when they saw our feet. Of course BattleDog was ok as he had avoided the path we took!

portugal diaries 7
Mucky feet…

Thursday of that week, the last of June, saw BattleDad return from Paris, so we decided to move into our new place on the Friday. We packed up in the afternoon and after dinner, set off to spend our first night in our new place. It felt a bit strange leaving my parents place after nearly a month with them but it also felt good to finally get into our new place as a family.

That weekend we visited Vila Real again for a bit of shopping and the same evening we installed BattleKid’s Fairy Door. We also decorated his room for him with various stickers we’d brought with us and his room started to feel more like his old one. We also worked out how to get the sprinklers in our garden working. The grass was looking dry and quite sad, if I’m honest. We fiddled with the hose and hey presto, on came the sprinklers. We still haven’t worked out how they can be set for specific times but BattleKid had a whale of a time running through them and getting soaked in the process.

portugal diaries 7
Finishing touches being put to our Fairy Door
portugal diaries 7
Sprinkler fun!

To be continued…

Cath x

The Portugal Diaries #5

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!portugal diaries

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.

portugal diaries
Playground time

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.

portugal diaries
Cachopo

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.

portugal diaries
The Roman Bridge in Tavira

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.

portugal diaries
Vila Real de Santo Antonio

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.

portugal diaries
Checking out the fish in Vila Real marina

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…….

A post shared by BattleMum (Cath Jordan) (@battlemum) on

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.

portugal diaries
O Castelo restaurant in Tavira. Great setting and amazing food
portugal diaries
Saying goodnight to the statue

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….

Cath x

If you missed any of my previous instalments, you can find them all in The Portugal Diaries.

Be In The Picture 5

Well, May has been and gone and boy oh boy was it busy. It started with our last weekend in Wales, during which time BattleKid got to bring the class bear home with him. He was the first one as nursery didn’t want him to miss out before he left. So, as you do, we took him dragon hunting in Abergavenny Castle. After we’d found the dragon we showed him how to roly poly down a hill and also how to blow Jinny Joes (dandelions). BattleKid loved him and nearly didn’t want to bring him back!

Be in the Picture 5 Be in the Picture 5

Then came the biggest change to our family as we set off for our new life in the sun. This entailed a 3 hour trip to Portsmouth, a 24 hour ferry trip to Santander, and a 13 hour car journey after an overnight in a gorgeous hotel, which I’ll be reviewing very soon. We just about made it, as those of you who follow me on Instagram will know. Car trouble!

Be in the Picture 5
On board the Pont Aven Brittany Ferries ship

Since then we’ve been staying with my parents while we waited until our new place was finished off, ready for us to move in. While BattleDad has been in Paris with work, BattleKid and I went into Tavira with my parents and also visited Ayamonte, Spain with them.

Be in the Picture 5
Sunny selfie in Tavira

Once BattleDad was home (in between trips) we all visited Vila Real de Santo Antonio which is a gorgeous town on the river border with Spain.

Be in the Picture 5
Checking out the fish in the marina at Vila Real de Santo Antonio

I also had to admit something very silly since we’ve been here.

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…….

A post shared by BattleMum (Cath Jordan) (@battlemum) on

Aside from that we’ve been relaxing and enjoying ourselves on my parents decking. We can’t wait to go exploring even more this month!Be in the Picture 5

Be in the Picture was created by Kerry of Kerry Louise Norris and Alana of Baby Holiday in which they encouraged us to get in front of the camera instead of always being behind it. I’m guilty of this and by joining in with Be in the Picture, it ensures BattleKid will have pictures of me as well of himself when he grows up.

Living Arrows 22/52

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

Kahlil Gibran

Last week we had quite a bit of sorting out to do to get our new home ready for the movers who were arriving from the UK with our stuff last Friday. However, after gaining access on Wednesday and cleaning the new place, we took a break on Thursday and headed to Ayamonte in Spain with my parents.

To get there from Portugal, the easiest and quickest way is to drive to Vila Real de Santo Antonio and get the ferry across the river, which takes 15 minutes. You don’t need your passports nor do you come across any border controls, unlike the land border.

During the trip over BattleKid seemed to enjoy himself and even tasted the air as we crossed a time zone from Portugal into Spain. He’s a crazy child sometimes!

living arrows 22 living arrows 22

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

Living Arrows 21/52

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

Kahlil Gibran

We’ve been slowly finding our feet in the last week since we arrived in Portugal. We’ve been out and about with Nanna and Lolo while BattleDad has been working. We did sneak tea and cake during one visit into Tavira itself, which a certain little someone thoroughly enjoyed.

living arrows 21

On Saturday we had a family day out, visiting Vila Real de Santo Antonio, which lies next to the Spanish border. It’s a lovely town, bustling with market stalls on a Saturday, and has lots of different types of shops. After a wander around during which time we saw a brilliant jazz-type band playing music, we stopped beside the marina to check out the boats and fish before having an ice-cream.living arrows 21

After some drama with my car, which is currently in Land Rover in Faro for a red engine warning light, we headed into Tavira on Saturday evening for our first outdoors dinner in a highly recommended restaurant. The food was amazing and there was lots of it. Afterwards, on our walk back to our hire car, we came across a live statue. BattleKid wasn’t too sure at first but he soon made friends and found it hilarious when he tried to shake the statue’s hand and the statue kept pulling his hand away.living arrows 21

We are flying solo this week with BattleDad back in Paris for work so we’ll see what the week has in store for us before he returns. Hope you’ve all had a lovely week.

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