Thirteen Days in Portugal…

Reg meets the Easter Bunny in Obidos (he doesn’t look too sure though!)

Having only spent one night in Portugal before, we planned to do a brief tour and take in a few sites. We didn’t really know too much about the country so we were very keen. Our plan was to head west along the coast and then north, before crossing eastwards back to Spain.

Crossing the border into Portugal, in the worst rain, since Finland 2019, was an adventure. We got onto the toll road, rather than a ferry (as we couldn’t find any information about the maximum size of vehicle), and over the bridge, then we were at a Toll Plaza (Portagem), where foreigners are directed to a machine to pay, but it wouldn’t accept any of our cards! We weren’t the only ones, everyone seemed to be having an issue, we tried logging in to the website, but still nothing, so last result – DRIVE!!! We have subsequently found out that there are often issues with the website and have since logged in and signed up,fingers crossed we haven’t got a letter when we get home!

We got off the Toll Road at the next junction and headed to Faro. Our first night stay was at the Faro Motorhome stop https://www.farocampervanpark.com/ Just a short walk from the town and the airport, but due to the torrential rain, we only wondered to the local shops.

Our next stop was Alvor and Camping Alvor https://www.campingalvor.com/en/ We managed to find a relatively nice pitch, but it was very cramped and despite finding an Indian Restaurant in Irish Town, we decided to head off the next day. In Portimão, we found an International Supermarket – we weren’t actually looking for English Food, but English mustard, Greg’s Steak pies and Cheddar, how could we refuse! We also found a Worten, a little like Currys/PC World at home, where we were able to buy a Portuguese Data SIM – MEO €14.99 Unlimited Data for 15 days!

We headed along the coast to Sagres, not quite the most southern point of Portugal but definitely one of the most exposed, with coastline south east and west – next stop USA! Our camping stop, Parque de Campismo Sagres https://www.orbitur.pt/en/destinations/algarve/orbitur-sagres was amongst the Pine trees, a short walk to the coast and close to the lighthouse, the Farol do Cabo de São Vicente, opened in the 1500s and first destroyed by Frances Drake in 1587.

After a couple of nights we headed north towards Lisbon, stopping at an unplanned location in the beautiful town of Odemira. Although not a lot more than a car park, it was right on the river and a stone’s throw from the old walled town.

Next, we stopped at a motorhome Aire just outside the walled town of Évora, the capital of the Alentejo Region. In the centre stands the old Roman temple of Diana, a twelfth century cathedral, white washed houses, cobbled streets and the Chapel of Bones.

Heading North, we stopped at another Orbitur site, just outside Lisbon, in the town of Cascais, next to a nature reserve, with view of the surfing beaches

Continuing north we headed slightly inland to another walled city – Obidos, home to a Chocolate Festival and Reg met the Easter Bunny.

We headed to the Catholic Pilgrimage Site of Fátima. There is a motorhome stop at the Cathedral, The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, but we chose not to stop as we’re not believers and the bells rang every fifteen minutes, without knowing whether they continued all night it was too much to consider! Fátima, is the fourth most popular catholic pilgrimage destination in the world. It is a place of pilgrimage, which celebrates the memory of its founding event, the apparitions of Our Lady to the three little Shepherds, who are honoured in the Cathedral – Lúcia and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco.

Instead we stopped at a campsite in he town of Coimbra, before heading to Estrelo Paxio de Varzim and a campsite right on the Atlantic, with a fabulous sandy beach, next to a golf course, which is great until Reg chases a seagull shadow up the rocks towards the green (Don’t know which hole, as he came back before reaching it!). Estrelo Paxio de Varzim is also on one of the Camino routes.

Our last night in Portugal, was in the town of Chaves. We had stopped here before on our first trip to Spain, back in 2019, but had never ventured into the city, it was another fabulous old walled city.

Now our journey takes a turn back to Spain, we’re heading homeward, but looking forward to touring areas we haven’t seen. Portugal has surprised us, there is so much history and countryside to explore, we will be back, in the future to hopefully explore the areas we haven’t yet seen. As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll be back soon with news from our second Spanish Leg…

2022 – Back on the Road

Sunset at Southport

We spent the time between Christmas and the New Year at Henley Four Oaks Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site, which is just off the River Thames and a short walk into the town of Henley-on-Thames. From there we headed off to Chertsey and the Camping and Caravanning Club (CCC) Site, where we saw in the New Year. The Chertsey CCC Site, is also next to the River Thames and a short walk to the town and we had a long overdue meet up with friends and walked along the river to Shepperton.

From Chertsey, we had to head to a FIAT service garage to have the motorhome looked at, following a recall notice. HTC Croydon, looked at and fixed the issue in a matter of minutes, before we were able to be back on the road. After an overnight stop at Gatwick CMC Site. we headed off for a short trip this time we headed to Ashwell and the Ashwell Farm CMC Site;which we picked as we didn’t think we had been before and it was local-ish. On arrival, we have been here before – on our first trip in the lovely Nortia, returning south from Darlington. Ashwell, is a charming English Country Village, with three pubs, a butchers, bakers, village shop and church overlooking the cricket field. There are a lot of footpaths and places to walk from the club site too.

Heading back homewards, we stopped at the CMC Site in Welwyn Garden City, Commons Wood. There are so many lovely places to walk to, the site backs right onto woods. After an appointment with the Doctors and a short catch-up at the Gatwick CMC Site (it was lovely to see / hear so many more planes this time and hope we would be able to travel abroad again soon.

As France had closed its borders to all but essential travel, we had booked to stay in the Lake District, rather than just pop here and there! We stopped over at the Chapel Lane CMC Site, Birmingham, not far from the M6, be aware heading north the lovely Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav, took us through the Clean Air Zone. We have checked and at current our engine is compliant, therefore charge free! Next we stopped at Southport CMC Site.

Neither of us had been to Southport before and the town is a lovely example of a Victorian Seaside Resort, although the sea has receded by several metres over the years and the end of the pier is now not near the sea! We were greeted with a lovely sunset over the bay. Southport is also home to several cycle routes including the Trans-Pennine Route Irish Sea to North Sea.

Back to the Lake District, via Blackpool, which I had never been to before and it was as expected, but surprisingly not as tacky (in our opinion) as Benidorm! We stopped at Meathorp Fell CMC site, with the expectation of walking back into Grange-over-Sands, but the weather didn’t share our optimism and so that was washed out, but we did find a little footpath route from the campsite to let Reg have a good walk instead. Next we stopped at a lovely CMC Certified Location Holmside, outside Seascale, with a lovely village and walks all around, before heading to one of our absolute favourite sites – Keswick Camping and Caravanning Club Site.

Keswick CCC Site was our treat for not having been able to travel to Spain in December. It is a gem, right on the edge of the town, views over Catbells and Skiddaw and Derwent Water and walks all around. We had also hoped to catch up with our friends, John and Sheila, who were heading home from Spain, but despite blustery, stormy weather – Storm Malik hit us that weekend, there were no spaces and for a third time our catch-up was thwarted! Fourth time lucky, fingers crossed!

Heading south, we stopped at Chatsworth Park, CMC Site, right in the grounds of the house, with extensive parkland to walk, and the village on the doorstep. Reg was excited to see so many deer, so close (he was kept on the lead though)! Storm Corrie arrived with avengence here, we’re beginning to feel a little jinxed! Further south and a quick one nighter at Broadway CMC Site- the village is a very short walk and so picturesque, before heading to Bristol and the Baltic Wharf CMC Site.

Baltic Wharf is another of our favourites, and we’ll be sad to see it go, but we were so lucky to have been able to sneak a midweek break in here. We found so much more to do this time including the street art along North Street, Bedminster and the aray of little shops and cafes. We had an excellent lunch at Sandwich Sandwich, Baldwin Street. If you’re going to try a stack, we would recommend not eating before and possibly cancelling any dinner plans! But just so good!

Finally our tour came to an end in Brighton at the CMC site, and a Birthday catch-up with family for my mum’s birthday. We had a few other bits to do but we’re pleased to say we’re off to Spain very soon! We’ll keep you posted and let you know all about our trip, very soon!

As always, thank you for reading, we hope you’ve managed to stay safe and well and you too have plans coming to fruition….

Happy New Year – “Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear”

As we prepare to welcome in the New Year of 2022, we have our fingers crossed we can carry on with our adventure, see some new (and old) places, meet up with family and friends, while continuing to be safe and well.

We’re looking back at what the last year has brought us and some of the places we have been.

We stayed at:

  • 32 Caravan and Motorhome Club Sites;
  • 34 Caravan and Motorhome Club Certified Locations;
  • 5 Camping and Caravan Club Sites;
  • 16 Independent Sites;
  • 2 Motorhome Stopovers;
  • 2 nights Off Grid; and
  • 3 nights at home.

We left Lockdown 3 on 12th April, 2021 and have had a great time, travelling up to the Northern Coast of Scotland, completing the NC500, travelling along Hadrian’s Wall across Northumberland, down the east coast of England, discovered the Meridian Line, caught up with family, just missed meeting friends (who were on the same campsite, but arrived as we prepared to leave!).

We had an emergency trip to the vet, nothing serious as it turned out, but still a worry; found some great places to eat (and some not so great!) and followed whims as to where to go. We stayed at a variety of Racecourses, fishing lakes, Marinas and even an Aerodrome, followed the Grand Union Canal north and retraced our steps to the Bristol and Somerset.

We’ve rediscovered places we thought we knew, but found better weather really helped! Taken time to relax and not rush around, and seen some sights. We’ve learnt some good lessons (the hard way), if a site looks too difficult to get into don’t bother – this would have prevented an argument with a fence post/ LPG Lorry and a couple of sleepless nights working out how to get out of a site!

We have tried to think of our best places of the year (in no order):

  • The Lodge CL, Halmer End, Stoke;
  • Omaha Meadows CL, Verwood, Hampshire;
  • Grove Lock Marina CL, Leighton Buzzard;
  • Blythe Waters CL, Solihull;
  • Salisbury Camping and Caravanning Club Site;
  • Slinfold Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Bunree Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Dunnet Bay Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Seacroft Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, Cromer;
  • Gamrie Bay CL, Banff, Scotland;
  • Findhorn Motorhome Stopover, Scotland;
  • Minehead Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Lochgilphead Caravan Park;
  • Boston Aerodrome CL, Lincolnshire;
  • Lost Acres CL; and
  • Baltic Wharf Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, Bristol.

We don’t know when we’ll be able to get to France and Spain, but we’ve got our fingers crossed. For now, we’re happy to be safe and well and hope you are too. As always, thank you for reading, wishing you a happy and safe 2022, we’ll be back soon…..