The Portugal Diaries #14

As mentioned in my last post, we are very lucky to have a restaurant on our site and we went there for dinner one evening at the end of July. As BattleDad was paying, Ricardo the manager gave BattleKid a push pop and I was horrified. I’ve written about it in a post called The Cruellest Things Parents Have Done to Their Children. However, Fairy came to the rescue and it wasn’t thought about or mentioned again.cruellest things

BattleKid and I were also doing painting at home quite often too as we wait to speak to the local kindergarten about getting BattleKid back into a school setting. Kindergarten would be good for all of us to get some structure and routine back. I do think BattleKid was missing it and I was hoping by the time we went to America, we would have a place sorted.Painting fun with BattleKid

At the start of August, BattleDad and I went to our storage unit to fish out warmer clothes for some holidays we have planned. We were advised to layer up for our USA road trip and we know we’ll need the warmer clothes for our trips to Bluestone and Paris. It felt very strange getting them out while we were in shorts and t-shirts. I must admit I am not looking forward to putting back on jeans, jumpers and coats! Funny how quickly you get used to living in shorts and flip flops.

We also took BattleDog to the vets at the start of August. He was due his kennel cough booster. I also asked the vet to check his nose as it was going crusty. He had been nosing in the ground and I thought it might be due to this. The vet mentioned two conditions that might also cause it and it got me a bit worried. However, she suggested moisturising it first to see if would come off. So that’s what I did, using good old olive oil. And to my surprise it worked. His nose was doing much better within a few days.German Shepherd

We have also had a few successful barbecues. BattleDad had a BBQ shipped down from the UK and spent some time putting it together. Once it was ready we ventured into Tavira Market for spices and supplies. The spices were for my Dad to make me up a curry powder mix. He makes the most amazing curries, that taste the same every time and it’s all down to the mix of spices he uses. He was kind enough to make me some when we first moved to Portugal but I was running low. So, we stocked up and he showed me how to make the powder sunday photo

BattleDad picked up some spices for chicken and I must say, the ones coming off the barbecue taste amazing. That’s one thing we love about living in Portugal. You can say you’re going to have a barbecue and not have to spend the rest of the day hoping and praying it doesn’t rain. You are pretty much guaranteed sunshine and warm weather in which to enjoy said barbecue. I think they are going to become a weekend regular!

We were also making the most of the pool on site every afternoon as it’s a lovely way to end the day with BattleKid and also a way to cool down. BattleKid has no fear at all in the water.My living arrows picture of BattleKid jumping into the pool

Our attempts to contact the school to enrol BattleKid weren’t very successful but just before our holiday, the main school in Vila Real de Santo Antonio contacted me and I managed to get BattleKid on the list. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. I had to get his fiscal number and try get both him and I a social security number. The lady in the office of social security didn’t speak much English and my attempts for that number for us failed. It left me feeling a bit worried as we approached our holiday as to whether he’d be allowed to join kindergarten.

We had been busy making final plans for our USA road trip during August. I had been working hard to get posts scheduled for while we’re away and I’m glad to say the motivation was great. I sometimes lose my blogging mojo but for some reason it was sticking around. I just hoped it didn’t get left behind in America. And before we knew it we were on our way to London to get ready for an epic two weeks in America. I am still writing up those Holiday Diaries!

To be continued…

Cath x

Missed some of our Portugal Diaries? They’re all under The Portugal Diaries section in Travel!

The Portugal Diaries #13

Upon picking my sister up at Faro airport on Tuesday 18th July, I was surprised to see she had brought someone with her, my nephew! It was a treat and BattleKid was only delighted to see his cousin. As my sister, G, had never been to either Ayamonte or Vila Real de Santo Antonio, we headed off early on the Wednesday to show her both.

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Fun on the ferry to Ayamonte

My nephew loves Ayamonte as he is half Spanish so he got to practise a bit while we were there. We did a bit of shopping and had brunch before getting the ferry back to Vila Real. My nephew and I visited our favourite shop there, Ale Hop, and we sat down afterwards for an ice cream and cold drink.

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A beautiful church in Ayamonte
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Eating Ice Cream in Vila Real de Santo Antonio

My sister enjoyed it but said her trip wasn’t long enough as she left on the Friday, leaving my nephew behind until the following Tuesday. We took him shopping in Gran Plaza in Tavira where I finally managed to pick myself up some new, decent flip flops in the form of Ipanema ones. My old ones are still going strong but are getting a bit grubby looking with the dust and sand around our park so new ones for outings were in order.

On the Monday before my nephew left, we recorded some videos for each other’s YouTube channels which I thoroughly enjoyed. My nephew has a very successful channel with over 2k subscribers! To see one of our collaboration videos, read on.

We had fun and got it done while BattleKid was snoozing on my parents’ sofa. I’m not sure we’d have gotten as much done had he been awake. Tuesday morning, we dropped him off at the airport before heading home to relax.

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Loving his cousin

One thing that has become a regular occurance is an afternoon swim in the pool on our site. I must admit our pool is not as warm as my parents but it’s a nice luxury to be able to jump in to cool off at the end of the day. We are also lucky to have a restaurant on site if I don’t feel like cooking dinner. Ricardo, the manager and chef, will open the kitchen for us even if it is closed as we are residents. We are very fortunate and he is a lovely man with really good English. He’s also great with BattleKid.

I sometimes have to pinch myself that this is my life now. I’m not on holidays, as I thought coming back from London, and we’re lucky in that we’ve only experienced 40°C once. The weather has been great, hovering around 30°C with dips up and down when we want it. It is going to be strange getting back into jeans and long-sleeved tops for our trip to Portland and Yellowstone but I know we’ll be coming back to warm weather, if only until our Bluestone trip in October!

Oh, and we’ve finally booked our trip to Disneyland Paris for December. I’ve been doing a lot of research where that is concerned, thinking about planning our first family trip, what rides BattleKid can go on and enjoy, and where to eat.

To be continued…

Cath x 

The Portugal Diaries #12

One thing I was apprehensive about before we left the UK was how it might affect my blog and the opportunities that came my way. While some PR’s have said they won’t send stuff to Portugal for review, others have been more than happy. Two such brands are Cosy Holder and My Piccolo.

We received a Cosy Holder and some My Piccolo pouches for review in the second week of July and had fun trying them out. I’ve also been lucky enough to have one sponsored post opportunity come my way and a few others offered, although I had to say no. One sounded good but for some reason didn’t come about and I’m not sure why.

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Enjoying a Piccolo pouch after the Fado
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Relaxing and enjoying his tablet with his Cosy Holder

So, in between reviewing some products, we took it easy in the second week of July and did some crafts, painting and playing with play doh while I got on with drafting blog posts and editing some videos for our YouTube channel which has been pretty much abandoned of late.

That said, on the third Saturday of July we had another Animal Vision charity event lined up in the form of a Fado. This is a concert of traditional music and song which featured two guitar players and four singers. The origins of Fado music can be traced back to Lisbon in the 1820’s, perhaps earlier.

We were treated to two ladies and two men singing songs that were both mournful and joyful and I have to say, one particular man and one lady blew us away. They had the most amazing voices, and although we had no idea what they were saying, we adults thoroughly enjoyed it. BattleKid loved the live music but wasn’t too fussed over the singing, putting his hands over ears during some of the singing. This amused the people sitting behind us.

This guy had a great singing voice
This lady had one of the most incredible voices I’ve ever heard

Again, the proceeds of this event went towards the fundraising for the x-ray machine for Novavet, and at the end of the concert we learned more about the reason behind the fundraising.

One couple had a cat who they brought to Novavet. They learned she had breast cancer but were unable to see if it had spread or to what degree as Novavet don’t have an x-ray machine/scanner. Unfortunately, this meant the vets were unable to properly treat her and perhaps save her life. When asked by the couple whose cat it was why they didn’t have one, they were told of the cost of such a machine. Novavet said in order to fund one they would have to raise their prices significantly and they didn’t want to do that.

Novavet will care for any animal that is brought to them, whether their owners can afford the treatment or not. Most people can, but if they increased their prices, they would be unable to treat many of the animals that are brought to them. So, the couple started Animal Vision and fundraising for an x-ray machine for Novavet. And this is a cause we are more than happy to support.

At the end of the Fado, I saw the couple who had helped arrange the Flamenco evening and they came over for a chat to see how we are settling in. They have told me there will be another night in Xicken Piri Piri and I said we look forward to it, which we will. Any event help by Animal Vision will be supported by the Battle Family and my parents. We’ve enjoyed both events we’ve attended so far for this worthy cause.

The next week my sister (the third girl) arrived on the Tuesday with a surprise for us!

To be continued…

Cath x     

Read more about our adventures in Portugal in my Portugal Diaries section.  

The Portugal Diaries #11

As mentioned last time, we had a trip inland pencilled in for the Wednesday of the first week of July. A good friend of ours from Wales and his fiancée were holidaying in Lisbon and he had asked if we could meet up as we haven’t seen him for a few years. We also would be meeting his fiancée for the first time, so BattleDad found a place that was roughly half way for us and we planned our meet up.

Little did I know that the reason BattleDad chose it was because there is an amazing castle in the town. We left our place and headed past Castro Marim towards Beja, taking the mountain roads inland. We passed through a town called Mertola, which also hosts a castle on a hill. We plan to visit that as it’s only an hour from us.

After almost 2 hours on the road we arrived in Beja and found the castle. I honestly did not associate castles with Portugal but you can imagine my delight that we managed not one, but two dragon hunts within days of each other.

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Beja Castle
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Beja Castle

M and P were running a little late so we walked along the outer walls and admired how beautiful the castle looked. Once our friends had arrived we went into the castle to explore and hunt out the dragon lurking within.

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Selfie with my boy at Beja Castle

After an hour, we found a café for a sit down and catch up with toasties and a coffee. I have to say I’m a big fan of toasties since moving to Portugal. They aren’t afraid of using butter and the bread they use is really good. Unfortunately, we couldn’t spend the afternoon with M and P as BattleDad had to get back for a conference call at 3pm but we thoroughly enjoyed our catch up and were so grateful they took time out from their holiday to come see us.

We decided to head back to Tavira via the main motorway and we got a nasty surprise on our way home. We came across a set of tolls not far from Beja and I mistakenly thought we could use the fast lane. I’ve set up an online account for our tolls along the A22, the main motorway that runs along the South of Portugal. But alas, these electronic tolls are different to those on the other motorways.

There are actually 3 different types of tolls and unless you have a tag, which you can only get for Portuguese plated cars, you have to get a ticket and present it at the other end. We didn’t have a ticket and as a result ended up paying a fine of over €100 for a trip that should have cost less than €10. A costly lesson to learn! I’m just glad we had enough on us to pay.

On our way home we did pass the exit for Silves which my Dad reliably informs us has another castle. I really am surprised at how many castles there are in Portugal and how amazing they look. I had been wondering whether we would be able to continue our dragon hunting adventures but thankfully we can.

Later that week we spent yet another Friday evening at the beach. Someone fell asleep on the way there and woke up to discover himself at the beach. He and BattleDad had a whale of a time jumping waves and running away from them.

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Jumping the waves on Manta Rota beach

It’s an absolute joy to be able to nip to the beach of an evening and see the joy in our son’s face as he plays in the sand and sea, which is warm by the way. It makes us happy to know our decision to leave the UK for a life in the sun is paying off. We’re starting to settle in and find out feet but we’ve a while to go before I think it’ll truly feel like home. But so far so good.

Next time I tell you of more blogger mail that has winged its way to us here in Portugal!

To be continued…

Cath x

Read more about our Portugal Adventures at Portugal Diaries.

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.

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Tasting the air between Portugal and Spain
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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Finishing touches being put to our Fairy Door
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Sprinkler fun!

To be continued…

Cath x