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And BOY are we busy?!

As if the campervan conversion isn’t keeping us busy enough, we’re now several weeks into the new school year as well as juggling work and home.

This year is an important one for both boys really.

For Jake, particularly, it’s a huge year because he is working towards taking GCSE Maths and IGCSE English next summer. At present, I’m helping Eliot in the mornings and Jake is fairly autonomously learning in the afternoons, 3 days a week Maths and 2 days English. He’s got a lot to cover but I’m confident that, if he WANTS it, he’ll achieve what he wants (the burning question, of course, is does he WANT it?!)

Eliot’s schedule is a little less hectic but we’re coming on so much, it’s mind-blowing to think where he began.

In the 4-5 months that we’ve been home educating (and bearing in mind that we too had 6 weeks off over summer!), his “Maths Age” has increased a full 12 months.

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It’s amazing to see how much how much he’s improved, and today, for example, the exercise was mental addition of 3 2-digit numbers. He was coming up with the answers only a second after I had solved them (I blame lack of sleep…or age…or, well, I had several excuses).

There are dozens and dozens of things that he did not have a clue about before and now he can do without thinking. Even his times tables, which I haven’t put emphasis on learning, are improving. We have a chart of the 1-12 times tables to which Eliot can refer, if and when he needs to, for other exercises (not for multiplication-specific exercises, obviously) and he’s starting to refer to it less and less over time.

The Maths Whizz website is an absolute godsend. I can’t even begin to imagine how we’d have got this far without it. Their method of teaching is great and their incentives work a treat with El!

In English, I’ve had various English exercise books of various levels on the go, but I’ve decided on one in particular that we are working through gradually. It’s a Key Stage 2 book (he’s not been taught English since age 6, so he’s pretty far behind!) and it’s laid out just right for us. Some books are more designed to work alongside the school curriculum, but this one is more independent and it’s working out well. We’ve touched on prefixes, past tense, commas, speech, adjectives and more so far already this term. Usually, we do 3 topics during the week with a refresher/reminder(/test!) a week or so later after a different topic. Seems to be working so far, and more importantly, it’s sinking in.

One day, he WILL come out with the word “taught” BEFORE the word “teached”!

Apart from school (and the campervan, of course) there’s been little else going on, but we did have a little excursion yesterday.

Jake and Nik had bought Groupon offers for supercar driving at Blyton, which is only 10 minutes from here. Even as a 15yo non-driver, Jake got to drive in a Lamborghini! The first car Jake ever drove will ALWAYS be a Lamborghini Gallardo.

How awesome is that?!

Typically, the weather did what the British weather does and it rained ALL day…until we got home! Days either side have been lovely but hey ho, Jake had fun and it’s difficult to beat that for your first ever drive in a car, I reckon!

Anyway, 3 weeks until holidays and then back to more of the same: work, homeschool, campervan building etc etc

It’s all good fun!

 

 

 

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It’s certainly safe to say that this year’s “end of school year” update differs significantly from previous ones.

You’d think that measuring “success” would be harder without tests and grading but actually, I think that it’s much easier. Instead of relying on a school book, a test, or a teacher to tell me, I can SEE the progress first-hand and that’s FAR better. I can watch Eliot get the answer to a sum quicker than I can (it’s happened once or twice this week, but I blame my brain having more to do than his!) and I can SEE Jake smile when he sees something he likes or watch him laugh when he plays with the dog or see the resolve in his face when he assures me things are going to get better.

That, to me, is better than a report card full of A’s any day of the week.

Eliot is stunning me with his progress. Clearly he’s ready to learn this stuff. Some of it is definitely below his age group but it’s stuff he didn’t have a clue how to do 2 months ago. According to the site stats on the website we use, his maths age has progressed 9 months in the 2 months we’ve been educating him at home and I can see the progress every single day. The mental stuff gets quicker; the times table sheet gets referred to less often; he’s learning stuff.

Praise be!

The English is coming on slowly. I’m trying not to sit and do it as one long session each day but we grab a worksheet and do “underline the nouns/verbs” or “their/there/they’re” or “It’s/its” practice. It’s the little and often approach but it is sinking in. It’s all alien to him and definitely a full lesson would just switch him right off.
It’s baby steps.

And while we have extra time to spare, we can investigate how a 3D printer works…

The newly-acquired 3D printer

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Or practise shapes and space, in the tent, with Blokus.

Or make a Lego holiday home!

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Or sneak off on the motorbike while the sun shines!

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Or to Blyton Raceway to watch Supercars (there were Lambos, Porches, Audis and even a Maclaren on track but the boys have photos of those!)

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Or study the friction of the different tyre types on Playmobile vehicles!
(Yes, I lost!)

So yeah. What with kids and school and work (and an impending VAT return due), it’s been pretty busy.

On the non-work side, we did get the garden pretty much finished. Gravel is all done, shed is built and in position, greenhouse is moved etc. We need to sort the decking out really but that’ll probably wait until next Spring now, I think. It’s “possible” the oil tank may be leaving us so that’ll free up another area of the garden which we can use somehow. We’re just waiting to see how that all pans out before doing anything much else.

Meantime though, I think it’s looking pretty good 🙂

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What else have we done?

Well, we’ve booked a trip back to visit Portugal in October. It’s just Nik, Eliot and I (Jake is being juggled amongst family members back here) but it’ll be great to get back for a trip. Eliot is super-excited about re-connecting with his school friends and Nik is just glad to be making a(nother) trip back.
Me? Yeh, it’ll be nice. But I’m OK anyway. Hopefully the weather will hold out. It’s before half term (when it usually rains) so fingers crossed.

Something else Eliot is super-excited about: it’s his birthday tomorrow!

My baby will be 12.

My baby who gives me this…

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and this…

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and this…

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He’s smart and opinionated, passionate and enthusiastic, utterly, utterly bonkers and drives me totally crazy, but we love him anyway!

So I’ll just finished with a Happy 12th Birthday to my boy.

 

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We were blessed enough to be invited to the Portuguese wedding this weekend.

One of Nik’s biker friends was getting married to his beautiful girlfriend.

At first, I was a bit apprehensive. Actually, we all were. We knew we wouldn’t really know what was going on and, on top of that, we had absolutely NOTHING whatsoever to wear. Nothing suitable for a wedding anyway. Neither boy owns “smart” clothes: not a shirt or trousers between them, let alone footwear that wasn’t Crocs or trainers, and Nik, having recently lost weight, didn’t fit into any of his.

I came across a perfect dress in a store in town and coupled it with a newly-purchased (2 days before the wedding, when I could finally work out what the weather was going to do) fake fur bolero.

The boys – all 3 of them – had to go shopping for the full ensemble: trousers, shirts, and, for Jake (whose feet are far bigger than anybody else in the house), shoes.

They didn’t scrub up bad, if I say so myself!

(Bolero not being worn here due to lovely mid-November sunshine at the time!)

We met up with some friends beforehand and headed to the church in Guia for midday, as instructed.

The groom (to his credit!) turned up with much of his party just before 12, with the bride traditionally (whether a wedding tradition or a Portuguese one is debatable!) about 20 minutes or so later.

There was a short part of the ceremony in the doorway to the church before we all moved inside for the main service. Thankfully, no singing because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have managed anything in Portuguese! It was all I could do to recite an English version of The Lord’s Prayer alongside their Portuguese one (and yes, I still remember it from school!).

After the church service, there was some standing around while the photographers did their bit with the church as their backdrop before we all headed off, in a convoy of cars, through Albufeira. This is apparently a tradition. The wedding party all attached ribbons to their car aerials and follow each other in convoy, beeping their horns loudly and persistently in celebration.

Many passing cars beeped back and lots of people came out to wave. It was great – even if Nik was too embarrassed to beep back and I had to keep reaching over to do it for him!

On arrival at the reception venue, we were greeted with drinks and snacks while the photographers took many more photos of the couple and guests in the beautiful grounds of the restaurant.

Both bride and groom are blessed with beautiful families, so I am sure their wedding photos will be stunning. Out of respect to all present and the photographers, however, I am not going to post too many photos here on this blog. It’s not the place.

The weather was lovely, considering it is mid-November. The sun mostly shone, the temperature was pleasant, and the rain definitely held off when it mattered.

When photos were done, we all headed inside for the reception and party. Fortunately, we were seated on a table with friends (English – no, English-speaking! Respect the Scots!) and the bride and groom’s friends and family were so lovely to us, ensuring that we understood what was going on at all time.

(Please excuse my moronic children!)

There was fabulous food, of course, plentiful drinks, and a very talented musician who not only sang beautifully, but also fully accompanied herself on the accordion (sometimes as she wandered around the room) and interacted with her crowd. She was fabulous.

A little later on, after the main food service (and much alcohol, of course), party games began and provided much additional amusement!

The food – and I feel I should give it a particular mention – was endless! The usual soup, fish and meat courses, followed by a huge selection of desserts (I wish I had photographed them!) and, a short while later, an even bigger selection of fresh hot and cold buffet! And just as we were leaving at around 9.30pm, more soup came out! I suspect the party continued on without us LONG into the night!

The whole day was fabulous and, as they head off on their short honeymoon to Italy today (me? jealous?), we wish Antonio and Ana Rita all the happiness in the world and thank them from the bottom of our hearts for inviting us to share in their special day.

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Well, it’s all change here Chez Hand.

Firstly, or most importantly, the boys are finally nearly back to school! They have a pre-term reception meeting on Monday, and they start properly (probably. I’m assuming we’ll find out for certain!) on Tuesday. It’s been such a long time coming that I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to have the kids in a school routine. They’ve been home since 3rd June!

School itself is an “all change all round” also, of course. Eliot is moving from Primaria into Jake’s (old) 2/3 cycle school, and Jake is moving out of it into the Secundaria the other side of town. That’s the biggest move, I think.
Actually, that’s unfair. Cycle 2 is a huge leap from where Eliot has been for the past 4 years, and at his level, he is going to really struggle. REALLY struggle.

Having said that, he is very excited to get back amongst friends and actually to NOT be bored. I’m sure that will soon wear off 😀

Jake, on the other hand, despite the complete change of school, and going from biking 5 minute to school to taking the bus to the other side of town, is at least in familiar territory from a study point of view. As he is repeating year 9, he is completely familiar with the routine, mostly familiar with subject matter (most of his books are different being at a differing school) even though he is being thrust into a completely alien environment.

Once he finds his way around, I’m sure he’ll be fine.

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Apart from the whole “Back to school” thing happening, there have been other changes here too. Nothing ground-breaking or particularly interesting but significant for us.

Firstly, Eliot had a bit of an epiphany recently. He suddenly (and I’ve no idea what exactly triggered it) made a connection between eating junk and being unhealthy. Now, in our defense, nobody in our house actually eats really badly, but certainly there’d never been a big emphasis on eating really well either. After much (much!) discussion with him, he understood what foods were good and how bad foods can affect you, both from a health and a weight point of view, and he realised that the salads and vegetables that he was (already) getting every evening were there for a reason. There’s been a big shift in what we ALL** eat, and in addition, there’s a new arrival in our home. (**ALL does not include my underweight teen who I am still trying to persuade to eat more…or at all!)

bike

Now, it’s not a great photo, but what can you do when you have sunshine in the background, eh? I know, I know, I could have stood the other side of it to take the photo, but it’s much prettier with outdoors in the background 😀

It’s not a bad view to be cycling next to though. We came to a group decision that an exercise bike would be more beneficial for us as a family for various reasons. Firstly, none of us are very fit. Or fit at all. Or actually, we are very unfit. So an exercise bike is a more viable option to enable us to build some level of fitness up before we brave “the great outdoors”. Nik and Eliot do go out on their push bikes sometimes, but this leads to reason number two: traffic. More specifically, foot traffic. It is still so busy around here that getting a decent cycle in is almost impossible. Hopefully, by the time our fitness levels improve, the number of people everywhere will have dropped too and outdoor cycling will be easier.

Oh, and thirdly, me? On two wheels? Not a pretty sight!

Nik and I are both losing weight gradually with the combined food/activity changes, so long may that continue.

Anyways, more changes around here include generally turfing out unwanted stuff, both for charity and for sale, and, more excitingly, a new car. Well, by “new”, I mean new-ER. We are now the proud owners of a 307 Diesel Estate which is lovely, especially in comparison to our “bus”.

The “bus”, which in reality is a 7-seater diesel Volkswagen Sharan, has served us well though. We’ve just discovered that we really don’t need the space as often as we thought we would, and we’d prefer something smaller. So if you know anybody in the market for a 7-seater…

What else?

I had a haircut! In fact, we ALL had haircuts, but mine was the most dramatic. After having a fringe put in earlier in the year (having not had a fringe for about 6 years), I braved having it cut short! It was scary, but I love the result.

Also, Eliot decided he wanted his ear pierced. In fact, now he’s had one done, he wants the other one done too, so once number 1 is healed, we’re off back for the other side.

I’m on countdown to my trip to England. So is Wendy. She is definitely ready for (and excited about!) her week off work. And seeing me, of course! We have plans for busy days and lazy days and it’s going to be fun. I just hope the weather holds out. We’ve had a cool week this week (OK, by “cool”, I mean mid 20s instead of 30s and a few showers!) and it’s been a refreshing change. I think the forecast is for it to calm down a bit in the next few weeks, with the return of sunny days and no rain though. Back to summer for a bit longer then which, seeing as we have quite a few people visiting in the coming months, is nice. It’ll be good to have a few social outings again. We’ve almost felt like hermits all summer (well, aside from our almost-daily trips to The Lighthouse anyway)

That’s not to say we’ve done absolutely nothing all summer. Nik and El did a snorkeling trip and have also been out snorkeling by themselves when we went to the beach the other week. We spent a nice few hours “chilling” (as much as one can “chill” in mid-30s, of course) on the beach and I enjoyed some quiet time while they both swam off and snorkeled for a bit.

Heads in the sea

Father and son drying off

So, we’ve a busy few months coming up. People coming here, me visiting there, kids back to school (whoop!) etc etc.

I’ll do my best to update!

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Boy, these summer holidays seem to be lasting forEVER! It seems like Christmas was more recent than my boys breaking up this year. My two have been off for 11 weeks already and they still have 4 left!

On the plus side, even El seems to be ready to get back to school, and anybody who knows him will know that this really is quite something! He’s missing his friends and, quite honestly, just missing something to do with his days. He’s a social kid and he needs school so much, especially the change of school. It’ll be great for him and he’s really excited about it. I honestly never thought I’d use the words “Eliot, Excited and School” in the same phrase. There ya go!

On the subject of school, I’ve just added a bit of information about school reports when moving from UK to Portugal. It’s neither gospel or exhaustive (different schools have different interpretations and levels of jobsworths, unfortunately) but it’s a very definite guide based on our and others’ experiences. If it helps someone, it’ll be worth the type up.

We’ve had a fairly uneventful summer really. Not too many visitors and pretty much just sunny weekends and working weekdays (with the occasional** obligatory trip to the Marina for a “business meeting”, of course).

Tapas at The Lighthouse on the Marina

A quick trip to Meia Praia beach

Lazing around by the local pool

 

Apart from back-to-school (can I get a “woohoo!”?), we do have a few other things to look forwards to too. At the beginning of October, I’m visiting my little sister in England for her birthday so that’s nice for us both! When I return from the UK, my Mum and Rod are flying back out here to Portugal for 8 days, so we’re all looking forwards to that also. Oh, and before I go, we have friends coming to the Algarve for a few weeks, so we’ll hopefully get to see them once or twice, which is always lovely.

By the time Mum and Rod go back, it’ll be mid-October! How the heck does it get to be two months until Christmas so soon? Good thing I’ve started Christmas shopping or it’d be homemade ginger cookies all round!

** in the loosest sense of the word.

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One of the awesome things about living here in the Algarve is not having to look too far away for some amazing places to visit. (I appreciate that the UK has some amazing places too. I’m talking about amazing places with guaranteed sun!)

One place which we had been repeatedly advised to visit was Seville, and with the existence of Isla Magica, this made it even more appealing to us as a family, so we decided to do the trip for a long weekend (Thursday to Sunday) to celebrate El’s 11th birthday (and hopefully quash our yearning for Orlando, which, until we moved, we were used to visiting every 2-3 years!)

It’s always a bonus when the place is driving distance too.

We booked a 2 bedroom apartment through AirBnb and arrived there about 5pm. The apartment manager met us, when we eventually sorted the car and parking. The apartment had its own parking but the direct route to it was blocked by road works and a lot of one-way streets had been reversed to accommodate this. Now, just imagine us, with our sat nav, trying to find the apartment and parking in a maze of backwards one-ways and streets barely wide enough for our 7 seater Sharan!
Yeah, that!

Anyway, the manager met us, and she had a nice little surprise for Eliot. I had mentioned that it was his birthday on the Friday and so she had obtained 4 tickets for Isla Magica from a friend who works there.

4 FREE tickets!

Awesome!!

Saved us over €100 which meant that we could eat out a little more and not have to worry about packed lunches. Yay!

She also advised us that, because of our fairly central location, it was as easy (actually a whole lot EASIER) to walk to Isla Magica than to drive, so on Friday morning we did that. It took about 20-25 minutes, which wasn’t bad at all, and we actually ended up spending almost the entire day there. We arrived about 11.30am and left about 9.30pm, I think!

When we first arrived, it wasn’t very busy at all, which meant the boys (and by “boys”, I mean all 3 of them!) didn’t have to queue very long for anything really. They did multiple rides on various wet things, including goodness-knows-how-many on the Anaconda log flume ride. Dozens, at least!

This about summed it up!

The boys even went on this on their own, each time aiming for a different photographic experience!

I love this one!! Jake actually ENJOYING himself!

There were a few like this too!

I know, right?

They did go on other rides too though! Nik wanted to go on, and Eliot eventually decided to go with him, the tall 68m free fall tower thing called El Desafio. No way either Jake or I were going on it though!


The Rapids

A bucking bronco thing!

Eliot also got himself a temporary spray tattoo.

5-7 days it was supposed to last. Well, obviously that quote didn’t take into account a) my son’s desire to keep his tattoo and b) the frequency and inadequacy of boys’ showering!
He loves it though, and he spent much time walking around Seville with his t-shirt sleeves rolled up so he could show it off! (That’s my boy!)

All in all, we had an excellent day at Isla Magica, but we did decide that it was the only thing about Seville that really blew us away. We really weren’t that bothered about the city itself.
I think there are two reasons for that.  Firstly, we live in an amazing place! The bar is set high right there. Secondly, Florence. Florence was such a jaw-droppingly beautiful place that it will take a lot to beat it.

Actually, I can think of a third reason. The fact that we were holidaying with kids! Ever tried the whole “aimlessly wandering” thing with a teenager and an 11-year-old?
No?
Well don’t! Leave ’em at home and go do it alone!

The boys were, on the whole, very good though. Particularly Jake who, being a “teen” and all that comes with that, didn’t much moan at all really. Except when his feet were hurting from walking all day on the second day but, given that I then bought him new trainers (which he needed anyway) a size and a half bigger than the ones he had been wearing, I think I have to bear some of the responsibility for that!

They both enjoyed the trip though, and I’m 100% sure that they would both do Isla Magica again. We all would. Not that I go on many of the rides. I “mind bags” and take photos. It’s my job!
I did go on a couple of things. A spinning barrels ride (and no, you’re NOT seeing the pics of video of that!), a smaller coaster (nobody braved the big one!) and an interactive 4D shooting-aliens thing which was kinda like “Men in Black” (at Universal, Orlando)’s poor cousin but it was fun enough that we went on three times, I think! Anything that gets us all squealing can’t be bad, eh?

We didn’t even get to the newly-opened water park section. Two reasons. Firstly, our free tickets didn’t cover it, and secondly, by the time we got there, it was late afternoon and we just didn’t see that we’d get our money’s worth for a few hours. This was confirmed by the fact that everybody wanted to do at least one more lap of the main park before we went in anyway, and it was decided that we could have more (and cheaper) fun by just going back on the rides they enjoyed most.

Like the Anaconda!

Just before I finish, a quick note about food. As is always the way with a new place, food was hit and miss depending on where we ate. Mostly, it was good though. I had an amazing “Salada Sevilla” in one place and a decent “5 tapas for €9.95” deal at another. The kids didn’t complain about their choices at all, so I guess we did ok.


Theme park food wasn’t bad either. €6.75 for a jumbo hot dog and fries. It really WAS jumbo too: a foot-long french stick with a giant sausage! I think only Nik ate all of his. We saved some of the leftovers for munchies time later on.

One other thing about the theme park was how much bottled water we got though! We took a frozen 2 lt bottle of our own to begin with and, when that was gone, must have bought another dozen bottles from the very-frequently-placed vending machines. At €1 a half-litre bottle, we didn’t mind too much. As it was well over 40C, we needed it!

We’d do Seville again, but I think next time we’ll just skip the city and do Isla Magica. Maybe we are just big kids really.

There’s one thing I will say though, even though it is only a 3 hour drive between Lagos and Seville, it’s always nice to be back on “home turf” halfway when we see this and everything becomes Portuguese and “normal” again!

welcometoalgarve

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In some ways, it feels like we have been here forEVER, but in other ways, it’s hard to believe that four whole years have gone by already!

I suppose I should do a bit of a general update really. It has been a while and, while much of the past months have been “same old, same old”, stuff has happened as well.

For example, school finished for summer – over a MONTH ago!

Jake’s last day was 3rd June, I think, and El finished classes on 30th May, only going in on the Monday and Tuesday after that for half-day events and school trips. That already feels like YEARS ago!

Actually, I should start with school updates, shouldn’t I?

Eliot passed his year 4 exams – BARELY! Like, by 2%. God knows how he is going to cope with year 5, but I think he is ready for the change of school. The big school (which now does years 5 through 8 – more about that in a minute!) is right around the corner from us, and I think even he is ready to move onwards and upwards, although how he will do with a year 5 curriculum is anybody’s guess.
At least he is starting in year 5 with a decent knowledge of spoken and aural Portuguese, which is more than Jake had when he plunged in at year 6!

So yeah, that’s good anyway. Eliot moving school is definitely a big step.
He’s a big boy now. Hardly my baby any more (although I still call him that, and he’s fine with it!)

My big boy! Now, who put that beer there??!!

My big boy! Now, who put that beer there??!!

Jake is repeating year 9. He actually could have taken exams and probably passed all of his failing year 9 subjects, but we (Jake and I) both decided that it was better that he repeated the year. At 14, he is quite young to be moving into what is the equivalent of doing 3 year A-levels/college, so I’m pleased to have him in year 9 for a bit longer.

That news would have been even better if it wasn’t for the fact that they are stopping teaching year 9 (academic subjects anyway) at Das Naus (the school next to us).
We were quite looking forwards to having both boys in the same place, with no worries about transport, but now Jake will have to go elsewhere for year 9.

He’s chosen Gil Eanes (there was more than one choice in town) and we’re fine with that. Hopefully, we’ll get him signed up in a few weeks without any problems (hahahahahahahahahahaha – no, seriously!) and he’ll just have to use a bus for school. He’s quite old enough to do so, and the whole experience of having to actually “commute” to school will do him good.

Fortunately, he isn’t bothered about it all. He’s quite content to repeat year 9, not at all bothered that he’ll be repeating it in an entirely different school (a lot of his friends are going to the other one) and isn’t bothered about using the bus.
Oh well, I suppose indifference is better than him hating the idea!

My "mature" teen on a rare sighting outside the bedroom!

My “mature” teen on a rare sighting outside the bedroom!

What else has happened?

Wendy (my sister) came to visit for my birthday, which was nice. We spent a few days eating, drinking and generally lounging about, all of which was great fun! She then flew home and signed for her first ever house! Having lived in rented accommodation since she left home, finally putting down roots and buying a home is a HUGE step for her!

Way to go, sis!

My new skinny sis on her visit (well, she’s not a new sister, obviously, but she IS newly super-skinny!)

We’re super-busy with work (always good) and we have very few visitor bookings this year. None who need to stay with us anyway, which is even better, because it means that the boys get to keep their own space. Recently purchased bunk beds for El’s room make it slightly less disruptive if we have to move Jake into there, but it’s much nicer not to, obviously, and for Jake to keep his own room.

Not that Jake is much bothered really, because, well, he’s an indifferent teen and doesn’t much bother about anything (except chores. Boy, does he mither about those!)

Oh yes, we went to Jerez for the MotoGP at the beginning of May (I really HAVE been slack about updating this blog!).
We left Jake at home (with plenty of food supplies) and drove over from Friday to Sunday.

We had a completely awesome weekend. Drive took us about 4 hours, we stayed in a decent enough apartment (rock hard and creaky beds aside!) in Jerez and watched fabulous racing, including a race from the unstoppable Marc Marquez!
We took soooooooooo many photos, I don’t even know where to start, but here’s a few.

It’s weird to think that Marquez is now 8 wins for 8 races! It’s quite mind-blowing really. Am looking forwards, as always, to the race this weekend to see if he can make it 9 for 9!

And speaking of this weekend, we are off to Seville for a long weekend (we go tomorrow: Thursday) for Eliot’s 11th birthday.

Having driven past it twice now, first en route to Gibraltar and then on the way to Jerez, we’ve realised it’s actually quite close, and there’s an apparently very good theme park and water park, called Isla Magica, there which should a) make a great day out for El’s birthday and b) quench our long-deprived need to a return to Orlando!

We’re doing Isla Magica on Friday and have Saturday free to either go for a second day or mooch around Seville a bit. Even Jake is coming with us this time. It wasn’t optional (being a birthday celebration weekend ‘n’ all) but he doesn’t seem to mind. A few days in the “real world” will be good for him. Even if he doesn’t own and refuses to wear a pair of shorts. So he’ll be baking and melting in the 40C which is forecast in Seville this weekend!

Teenagers, eh?!

I think that’s our news really.

I know I’m behind with my Gibraltar A to Z, but quite honestly, at this point, it probably won’t get done. Don’t hold your breath anyway. It’s not THAT good LOL

I’ll try to do a Seville post sometime after we’re back. Maybe one for the trip and a separate one for Isla Magica. Depends what we get up to and whether it warrants more than one post. Might just do a picture post. We’ll see.

And speaking of pictures, let’s have some sunny, blue sky posts. I know the UK has been enjoying some (can I say “unseasonably”?) summer weather lately, and our summer pretty much here to stay until about October now, so I’ll try to keep sharing the sunny pics for when the “real” British summer arrives (you know, the one where it rains for days on end.)

Just so y’all know what you could be visiting if you popped over to see us!

It’s always nice when people come here on holiday and we get chance to meet up. A school friend of mine recently came to the Algarve with her family and it was fantastic to see her again, after 20+ years, and meet her brood!

So yeah, if you ever visit the Algarve on holiday, give us a yell and we’ll show you this lot!

View from the pool table at our local – The Lighthouse on Lagos Marina

Across Praia de Batata, Lagos

Our beautiful “green tiled shop”, complete with the Jacaranda tree in bloom.

View from the Science Centre and roof of the market building on the Avenida

Nik’s bike when he took it up to the Autodromo race track for the World Superbikes last weekend

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