Sun 27/11/16: Waking up to yet another very wet morning suddenly seemed to inspire some temporary madness- if there’s no sun in Spain perhaps there is in the Algarve and so after a quick google so it would seem there was. So with Spain raining and frowning upon us so we headed to the Portuguese border just some 50 miles away. But our fate was in the hands of others and after just some 5k’s or so the low pressure warning light went on again on the dashboard. We had had some issues with this leaving the previous camp site but were less concerned when upon filling up with air in a garage the light went off and seemed to stay off. But not to be now, so we quickly pulled into another petrol station before hitting the border and again filled up with air, above and beyond the actual pressure but the tyre wasn’t having any of it and kept giving us a low pressure reading. What to do? the leak was slow but we are a big vehicle and the roads were wet so bravely David opted to change the tyre there and then. For me a first as I’ve never been able to undo the nuts/bolts whatever that hold any of my car tyres on and I always have this concern that the vehicle will drop down upon me whilst the wheel is off, but not for Mr fix It David and so on the small dry patch there was he got to work jacking up our 3.5 ton home and changing the wheel. I watched on in awe and amazement as he completed the task with some degree of difficulty plus strength but without too much swearing and with the replacement tyre on and blown up I really had to raise my hat to him –well done that boy and so we headed on into Portugal and the Algarve. I would love to say the temperatures rose significantly as we drove along this coastline with the clouds lifting but they didn’t and we pitched up that night in an area well known to us from previous villa holidays in an area called Pera under more cloud. Dinner was an odd chilli as the mince we had got from the previous day on Spain was pork and although tasty slightly unusual for chilli but the bowls were wiped clean.
Mon 28/11/16: Although a slightly cool start the sun was shining through the shutters as we awoke that morning causing us to hop out of bed with joy along with the promise of the pre-ordered bread and croissants. As the sun gathered strength we just sat on the terrace and enjoyed the heat before cycling off to one of our nirvana restaurants in the nearby town of Guia. The restaurant of choice specialises in the Algarve’s famed chicken piri pri and has been in existence for many years and has been visited by myself and close friends for many years as well. The restaurant is huge and almost school dining room like inside with the menu being mainly chicken piri piri. A half chicken with salad and chips was soon devoured with David desperately trying to convince me that we needed a further helping, but we quite rightly resisted and thoroughly enjoyed what we had at a very reasonable price indeed. We spent the afternoon visiting old haunts and for me more so reminiscing of times and friends no longer with us.
Tues 29/11/16: Unfortunately Portugal could not sustain the weather either and with the day predicted as cloudy with rain forecast as well so we headed back to our comfort zone of Spain but not before having our last feast of chicken piri piri in the lovely almost border town of Tavira. Not quite as good as the chicken shack in Guia although spicier but less juice but we were contented as we crossed back into Spain and made for the sherry town of Sanlucar –another one in the sherry triangle here in the south west corner of Spain. We arrived on the demi-Aire in darkness at about 7.30pm so not a good time we find personally for us to drive or set up but we managed to get organised and walked into the local ‘metropolis’ and for me had my first taste of the very local specialist sherry here –manzanilla. Very nice too and helped as we fall asleep to the ever present sound of rain and barking dogs.
Wed 30/11/16: No bread man came to visit on site and so we made a very quick pit stop in another local bar and had our 2nd breakfast of café con leche and for David toastado. The day was grey but warm for us but we should have taken those first looks in the bar as the indication of what was to follow as we cycled into the main town of Sanlucar where our shorts and bare legs could hold no abounds of stares and the usual comments of “ frio, frio”. Sanlucar as well as being famed for manzanilla sherry is also known for its amazing seafood and especially prawns of which we saw much evidence of in the amazing local market. However, perhaps it was just us and the day but we could find no inspiration for them in the restaurants on the seafront and unusually for us we gave way to our heads not hearts and headed to a local back street tapa bar where we had a lovely mix of more normal Spanish food. After our cycle back and a few admin chores we walked again down the high street and parted with a few shekels in another bar where we got the most unusual free tapa thus far we think of fresh salted tomatoes. I’m not a raw tom fan but David did
justice to them but thankfully we weren’t given a 2nd portion of them with David’s next beer.
Thurs 01/12/16: Unbelievable that its December already, where has time gone again but for us it was time for another sherry tasting at the house of Barbadillo famed for its range of sherries especially of course manzanilla. The tasting and tour was excellent and the range of tastings at the end perhaps gave way to the start of our downfall along with meeting two fellow motorhomers Catherine and James. It would have been rude not to have lunch with them, compare notes, travel experiences and share a few more sherries along with meeting their most lovely dog Oscar who joined us for the lunch. A good day was had by all and my prawn casserole was the star of the food show for me being so laden with garlic that it helped me ward of any evil spirits on the way home. It’s always a great treat to meet fellow motorhomers so a big thanks to Catherine, James and Oscar for sharing their tales and experiences with us on that day. Click here to visit their Blog it is well worth it.
Fri 02/12/16: Time for us to head on and to a proper camp site to do some much needed washing of sheets, towels, clothes etc and thankfully for us a wonderful dryer on site as well as the weather continued to stay very wet. Before we left we decided to do the 36k return cycle along the nearby Via Verde to another seaside town of Rota. The cycle was fairly uneventful through very fertile crops of potatoes and fresh haba crops to Rota, but it was here again we meet wonderful hospitality in a local bar just refurbished and having its opening that very day. We were looking on with curiosity at the promotion girls outside as they handed out free sherry before cautiously making our way in to be greeted by the owners step father who was also being the photographer for the day and he welcomed us in and told us to help ourselves to the food being passed around and make ourselves at home. I stuck to the sherry samples and David had a few beers along with the food- mussels, pork crackling, ribs and much more besides and it was only when we came to ask for the bill for the beers were we told that they were on the house too! Quite amazing as they could have ignored us knowing we were unlikely to come back or charge us and we would still have been quite happy but no the lunch really was a free date. We left wishing them all the best and hoping that the bar is a huge success in these difficult times.
Sat 03/12/16: The Grey ones take on the mighty El Toro and that El Toro a renowned symbol throughout Spain is Osbourne. A bodega in existence since 1772 when it was set up by an Englishman Thomas Osbourne Mann from Exeter and is responsible for the legendary black bull logo throughout Spain. Its headquarters remain in El Puerto de Santa Maria and it still remains a family run business. The bodega was just lovely, very modern and more than ready for its hoards of visitors and we decided having already having done a sherry tour that a tasting here was enough for us along with the fact that David had his eyes firmly set on the very lovely mechanise boutique as well. I did a sherry tasting and David the brandy, €8 and €10 respectively probably only slightly more than what you would pay in the UK for a glass of equal quality and we were guided through the tasting by the very knowledgeable and friendly Manual whose name we studiously ignored making reference to, plus the fact he wasn’t from Barcelona!. We left the world of Osbourne some time later and enjoyed the tapa world of El Puerto with a marvellous chicken cooked in sherry that was sweet and fell off the bone. We did try some prawns later on but to be honest I was slightly disappointed in them, but again that could have been due the fact the rain and wind were howling through the restaurants awning with thunder and lightning crashing all around as well. A quick retreat was made back to NiKi and a night spent in front of the fire!
Sun 04/12/16: Vejer, Vejer our ‘spiritual’ home in Spain. Not entirely sure what that means but sounds good and we certainly feel a great fondness for this town our first real stop in Spain and where we added to the foundations of our Spanish and failed to make the grade at all in our leaving certs here, but fun we had and many good people we meet here so we were more than happy to finally close the circle and stay again here. One restaurant we missed out on here due to its closure for holidays was El Jardin del Califa and so it was there that we made straight to just in case…. The hill into the old part of Vejer was just as before, more than bloody steep but we made it with 2 short stops and fell into this amazing Moroccan restaurant. For me a lamb tagine and for David mince kebabs served with rice and a fiery chilli sauce. The local red wine went exceptionally well and we were left wondering how many visits we could actually manage here before we leave and continue our journey along the south coast.
The weeks will fly by and we have squared the circle but we are both safe in the knowledge on the food front that the very best piri piri chef will be arriving shortly for our Christmas extravaganza
How we got around this week in the rain!