Sunday Sevens #95 6.8.17

Hello there, please excuse the brevity of this week’s Sunday Sevens. I had loads to tell you about our trip to Portugal but the slowest wifi known to man meant I couldn’t write it on holiday (think 12 hours to upload a single photo) and sadly, since we returned yesterday, I have been rather poorly with a very unpleasant bug. I’m starting to feel a little more human this evening so here goes…

Holidays start here!

Last Saturday we arrived on the beautiful Algarve coast near to Alvor. After a five and a half hour drive from Gibraltar it was great to be back in the same place where we holidayed two years ago. It’s still as picturesque as I remembered.

Lovely Lagos

Just a 20 minute drive from our resort is the town of Lagos, we didn’t visit it last time, so paid it a visit to see what was there. With heaps of character and narrow streets, along with moorish architecture it reminded me a lot of Tarifa, which is close to Gibraltar on the Atlantic coast.

Cheers!


Dinner at a beachside restaurant, or chiringuito as they are known close to us in Spain, meant a chance to sample some beautiful food and a gorgeous Algarvian rosé as the sun went down.

Back to Alvor

Our favourite destination on our last visit to this part of the world is the fishing village of Alvor. So quaint and characterful, and home to lots of lovely places to eat!

Taberna 

Talking of eating… While we were in Portugal, we timed our visit to coincide with friends who were visiting from England. One of our friends is Portuguese and has been visiting this part of the world for her family summer holidays for 40+ years. She took us back to her favourite restaurant, ‘Taberna’ in Portimão for a beautiful meal in a truly atmospheric place.

Beach life

I have never visited tropical beaches, but I can’t imagine they are any more beautiful than the beaches of the Algarve, with dramatic cliffs, clean sand and crystal clear turquoise water. We spent many happy hours jumping Atlantic waves and building sand castles.

Heading home

If you have seen the news lately about the heatwave in Central Europe, you will know things have been pretty warm in these parts of late. We set off at 8:15am in an attempt to beat some of the heat, but it wasn’t early enough. The sun was beating down on us just over an hour later as we crossed the bridge from Portugal back into Spain. The highest temperature I read on the car dashboard thermometer was 41.5 C as we crossed the hills south of Jerez. It isn’t a patch on the record highs elsewhere in Europe, but it was rather toasty.

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series for bloggers which was created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins. It features seven (or perhaps more) photos from the last seven days of your week. If you are a blogger and would like to join in with the Sunday Sevens community, then pop over to Natalie’s blog to find out how you can get involved.

Sunday Sevens #94 30.7.17

This week’s Sunday Sevens features several locations in 4 different countries believe it or not! Here goes…

Sunny English summer skies


This time last week we were in Reading enjoying the last full day with our old friends who once lived in Gibraltar. They have a lovely big back garden and the weather conspired to allow the Little Postcards and their friends to play outdoors for ages on the trampoline and running about on the grass. Meanwhile my friend and I looked on, coffee, and then gin in hand, and enjoyed a jolly good catch up. We had such a lovely time, thank you so much x

Ride a cock horse… our Banbury detour


So our return trip up North managed to coincide with some rather annoying (for us) railway engineering works. We ended up killing an hour in Banbury between connections. My only prior knowledge of the place was a bloke at University called ‘Pete from Banbury’ and the nursery rhyme. I can now add to that extensive catalogue of knowledge by contributing the fact that Banbury Debenhams do a damn fine chocolate brownie.

Family times


On Tuesday we went out for a lovely meal with my parents, brother and sister-in-law. My brother gave us a lift in his van and opened the sunroof, much to the delight of the Little Postcards! Check out that blue sky!

Oh, and there was an octopus at the table too…


Heading home – very slowly!


Wednesday meant time to leave England and a long wait for our plane home. A medical emergency on the plane we should have caught made our departure time 2 hours later than it should be. I hope the patient is ok.

We took off in the end though… good bye for now England!



Blue skies above


Back in Gibraltar, and boy it’s been very warm! Not a cloud in the sky…



Hot, hot, hot!


I know I’ve just spent 2 and a half weeks in England and I’m out of practice, but it really has been hot – 32.4 degrees on Friday.

Off on holiday again


I’ve had a very quick turnaround this week, unpacking our suitcases, washing and refilling them in time for our road trip to Portugal. We are staying in the same place as we did on our last visit two years ago, not far from Alvor. This is the Queen Sofia Bridge in Seville, it’s a huge structure which sea-going tankers can travel beneath. You get a great view of the city from it too. Oh, and it was 38.5 degrees there – phew!

After a five hour drive from Gibraltar and a welcome drop in temperature by a couple of degrees, we arrived at our destination. We’ve been hanging out with the locals…

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series for bloggers which was created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins. It features seven (or perhaps more) photos from the last seven days of your week. If you are a blogger and would like to join in with the Sunday Sevens community, then pop over to Natalie’s blog to find out how you can get involved.

“Are we there yet?” Road trip to Portugal.

  
On Saturday we got up early and set off on a road trip. That’s something VERY unusual for us these days. When we lived in England we had regular trips up to the Scottish Highlands (which we love) and across England to visit friends & family. Since moving to Gibraltar almost 6 years ago though, the longest road trip we’ve taken as a family is around 2 hours up the road to Cadiz. When we planned the trip, we did it thinking ‘what the heck, nothing ventured, nothing gained’ (I shall preface this statement with the fact that 5-10 minute car journeys with my family are rarely quiet, event-free occurrences). Even the prospect of sitting in a border queue to go 5 minutes up the road to Decathlon for some school PE trainers is a big deal for us. 

Over the years, we have become very Gibraltar-centric. The prospect of a long and arduous wait in a border queue across to Spain and back home again with our offspring in the back of the car doesn’t fill either of us with joy. As a consequence, we rarely venture over to Spain without a good reason like a party, to take visiting relatives over or to go on holiday. We have had a number of quick half-term breaks on the Costa del Sol since we arrived here (around an hour’s drive from home), and we have looked longingly at friends’ Facebook photos of skiing trips to Sierra Nevada and sunny get-always to the Algarve but we’re never brave enough to attempt it. That was until now. 

This year we decided it was time to bite the bullet and head off further afield. Armed with a packed lunch, wet wipes and a couple of movies downloaded onto the iPad we set off. An early start paid dividends as we sailed through the border with Spain. So taken aback was I at the lack of a queue I almost flashed our passports at the man selling Gibraltar Chronicles just before we crossed over! (Not my proudest moment and it didn’t go unnoticed nor without comment from Mr P). We zoomed past our favourite retail outlets at Los Barrios and out into the beautiful Andalusian countryside.

  
As you will notice from the photo, it was a bit cloudy and not at all Andalusian-like in the weather stakes but it didn’t matter. The roads were quiet, the only hold ups being a caravan with a puncture and a toll booth near Jerez where, as you can see, it got rather wet.

  
WET??? In southern Spain IN AUGUST??? It was more like driving on the A1 (in England) than the E5 heading towards Seville!

Having listened to friends talk of downloading movies to iPad to entertain children on long car journeys, I thought that may be the solution to potential boredom problems. As a childhood sufferer of car sickness, I should have known better. We held off on the movie for at least half an hour while we could still get good reception of BFBS Radio 2 and the BBC Radio 4 news from the mast in Gibraltar. When the crackle became unbearable it was time for the big treat; ‘Paddington’. Two out of three of the boys had not previously seen the film so I thought it was a perfect choice. It was, for about 20 minutes until the first cry of “I’ve got a tummy ache!”. We lasted another 10 minutes before a second child complained of feeling queasy. That’s when the iPad went away – permanently. How could I not have realised there would have been a problem with watching a film in a moving car? I certainly couldn’t do it even now. A plane or train is one thing (well alright 2 things), but a car? Hey-ho, I won’t attempt that again!

In just under 2 hours we were further from home than we have ever been before as a motoring family of 5. We crossed the impressive road bridge over the Guadalquivir River at Seville  (or Sevilla as it’s called in these parts).

 
 At Seville, we turned left off the motorway which required crossing 3 lanes of traffic to sit in the fast lane (a bit hairy at times) and wait for the turn off to Huelva and…

  
… the first road sign for Portugal! On we drove, (stopping only for an emergency toilet break), and just 3 1/2 hours after setting off we saw this wondrous sight:

  
… the bridge over the Guadiano river marking the border between Spain and Portugal. It seems a bizarre thing to say but you could tell you were in a different country immediately (apart from the language on the road signs!) the vegetation at the side of the road was different and the farms, etc seemed to be on a much smaller scale than the more industrialised developments we’d left behind. Just over an hour later, we were at our destination close to the fishing town of Portimão. 

  
I’m amazed at how relatively painless the journey was, I don’t think we were asked “are we there yet?” until we were close to Seville, which to my mind is pretty good going. Mind you, we must have been asked it close to 100 times between Seville and Portimão but hey, who’s counting? In the process of undertaking the journey, we exorcised our fear of driving relatively long distances with 3 kids in the car and were rewarded with blue skies and sunshine at the end of the day. Oh, and a fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean!

É tudo por agora (that’s all for now) from the Algarve, thanks for stopping by! Please call back soon and I’ll be sharing some of our Portuguese experiences. 🙂