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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.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 08.45.36

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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If I thought for one minute that things would be back to ‘normal’ when we came back to England, how completely deluded I was.

I suppose, it depends on your definition of ‘normal’, but ours (well, mine) was working from home, kids at school, same old same old just with fewer sunshine and beer breaks (booooo!)

I guess I was partly right.
I was also dead wrong!

After a shaky start with Jake in (or not in) school, we settled into something that works for us for now. Jake does 2 hours (ish!) of Maths in the morning and then 2 hours currently learning coding or 3D design in the afternoon. He’s signed up to a great Maths website that he seems to be getting on with OK (after trialling several) and he’s working his way to starting GCSE Maths study, alongside English next year or soon after.

Exams weren’t in our initial plan, but then Jake decided he wants to do plumbing. That’s all well and good but he’s going to need him some GCSE Maths and English passes to get into college and so that’s what we’re working towards now. Whether it’ll be next summer or after that, I don’t know, but it’s a target and, much more importantly, an ambition. That’s quite huge for us actually. It’s certainly not even in the ballpark of what we’d have expected Jake to show an interest in, but hey, world needs plumbers!

So we have a sort of plan for Jake. That’s good.

And so on to Eliot.

He settled in well at school. He’s a social sort and made plenty of friends. And that’s all well and good but… it’s difficult to know how to get down how things went in my head but I think it boiled down to two words: Parents’ Evening.

Eliot was excited for us to come and especially so because the first teacher we were seeing was the dance teacher and he was loving dance, having been asked to join the lunchtime dance group. So we trotted along to see her and that’s about where it all started to unravel. The one thing she had to say, which seemed to take up her EVERY last word about Eliot and dance, was homework.

Homework!
I mean, honestly. Homework??
Now, I have a beef with homework at the best of times, but seriously? In Dance class?

I expected to hear the same from every teacher but didn’t really. Lots of how Eliot is a ‘very sociable and popular child’ but he ‘needs to focus more’, is ‘very easily distracted’ and should ‘concentrate in class’ and blah blah blah yada yada.

Quite honestly, what they want is for Eliot not to be Eliot but to be some good little worker bee to line up with the rest of the hive and enable them to churn out one more obedient sheep at the end of year 11.

No. Thank. You!

Eliot has never been the best in school. Anyone who knows him will know this, but he’s not stupid. Not by a long shot, and school was making him seem that way. It made him feel incapable and dumb and, coupled with the fact that he was so very clearly 4 years behind in the important parts of Maths and English from being in Portuguese school, it didn’t bode well for the long-term.

He may not be academically gifted but the boy is clever and he needs to see it. We needed to get back to basics and school wasn’t doing it.

My brain coped with about one more week of school and then it spontaneously combusted and, after a long heart to heart with Eliot (who was very mature in his reasoning for staying in school as well as being out of it) we de-registered him too.

It’s been a rocky start but we now have some sort of thing going. We found an absolutely awesomely fantastic maths website called Maths Whizz which is perfect for Eliot. It assesses as it goes and has been brilliant at filling in some really fundamental gaps in his knowledge. We’ve lots more to do but the fact that I’m even managing to get him to do an hour each morning on it during school half term speaks for itself!

It’s quite ingenious really.

If I could find an equivalent site for English, that’d be even better! Currently, we’ve worked on Nouns and used the free Grammaropolis Nouns section as an aid. It was a bit of fun but rather too childish really. Not quite what we’re looking for and I’m undecided whether we’ll pay to use the rest of the site. It worked, I suppose, but I’m still looking.

Meantime we’re still bouncing back to nouns every once in a while and I’m tackling his spelling (which is , quite honestly, atrocious. Partly due to not being educated in English for 5 years and partly due to the only reading/writing he had done in that time being picked up from chatting online: definitely NOT the place to learn!)

So anyway, it’s an hour of Maths, 15 minute break and 30-45 mins of English each morning – the important academic stuff – and a less structured couple of hours in the afternoon doing science or something more fun! He’s doing well with it so far and I’ve been amazed at how quickly he’s responding to learning this way. I can see huge progress already and, perhaps as importantly, HE can see real progress and achievement. It’s measurable in his Maths and it’s lovely to see.

That’s huge too.

So, I’m juggling my days with helping Eliot in the mornings and fitting work in before that, during the boys’ lunch break and after 3 when they’re both finished. It’s tricky sometimes but it’s working and it’s definitely beneficial.

What else?

That’s all so big that not a lot else has gone on really. Nik went back to Portugal for a week for the Jerez MotoGP (the git – we all went last year) and I had a very long weekend away at Wendy’s when we both went to Nottingham for 3 days to see John Barrowman Live. It was great!

See how close we were?! Second row!

We ate lots, drank lots and loved the show! Music was great and John is a great entertainer (and very, very funny!)

It was a fab weekend!

Oh, other news. We’re having solar panels fitted to the house. Slight irony really that we’re having them fitted here after living nearly 5 years in a country with a zillion hours more sun, but we were looking at financially viable ways to provide us with more economical power and this is the first step.

Our oil central heating (we’re off mains gas here) is not cheap to run. We went through 500 litres of oil (about £350-400) in less than 6 weeks when we first moved back in and that was with the heating on 6-10am and 6-10.30 pm. So we were STILL freezing in the office all day! We had to bump the heating down to 2 hours morning and evening instead (did that while it was still cold: mid March, I think) and so now we’re even colder in the office all day but we’re not using so much oil. We’re hoping that, with the solar PV panels, we can run any excess into a storage heater for the office (usual approach is to run it to the immersion, and we may or may not use that option instead) but either way the money we save/earn on electric, we can use towards our oil.

We’ve gone with WeRSolarUK by personal recommendation. We noticed that one of our nearby neighbours had panels fitted (last summer) and he’s said the benefits have been very good. He recommended the company and, even though we did shop around and get another local quote, we were certainly impressed with what WeRSolarUK could offer for the money. I’ll report back with an update at a later date!

We’re also looking at getting out oil boiler replaced with a more efficient one and sorting out our whole hot water system which is horribly inefficient at present.

It’s all a work in progress but it should result in a nicer, warmer workplace without increase in overall cost beyond our initial loan payback. We’ve borrowed over 4 years, but the system should pay for itself in around 6-7 (based on our home in particular) and carries on paying out from the Feed-in-Tariff for 20 years in total giving an overall return on investment of a considerable amount higher than having it sat in the bank!

It’s been a big step for us: borrowing from the bank. Mortgages aside, it isn’t something we’ve ever done. We’ve never had a personal loan as a couple (Nik had one before we met) so it’s been actually quite nice to know that we’re still credit-worthy!

We’ve been spending some time working on the garden here too now that the weather has improved. We had a huge (approx 70ft) Christmas Tree removed that had been in the garden for over 40 years and was causing a nuisance both our side of the boundary and next door. The needles made the garden a mess and the thing was enormous! We got it cut down and spent some considerable time clearing away branches and needles.

Under the tree : Before

You can see how big the job was! The debris filled the garden!

Oh the needles. We have gravel directly beneath where the tree stood and 10 years of needles (since we put the gravel down) had fallen in amongst the stone, making it squashy, dirty and grow weeds! (in the needle mulch itself)

After the tree and branches had all been cleared from the garden (luckily, our garden is very long itself), we set to sieving the gravel. We sieved about 10 square meters of gravel and it’s so much better now. We certainly cleared a LOT of needles! I’d guess about 6-8 big green garden wheelie bins worth! Back-breaking and time-consuming work but it looks SO much better for it.

While the tree itself didn’t shade us from the sun (it did next door though!), it did, of course, cast shadow and significantly obscure the skyline. The difference now it’s gone is amazing! The garden feels even bigger and lighter and much less claustrophobic for having it gone.

Now we’ve got that sorted, we’ve replaced the shed (building new one afforded us both the opportunity to get sunburnt on Saturday!)  and just need to clear the old one and shift the greenhouse off the decking and into its final place next to the new shed.

It’s getting there.

Anyways, that’s probably enough waffle for now.

Suffice to stay we’re still here, and we’re hoping for many more sunshiny days like Saturday!

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You know how school terms seem long in the UK?
Well, I don’t think I ever actually truly appreciated the point of “half term”… until now. They don’t have half term breaks here in Portugal and the Christmas break seems like a lifetime away.

It must seem like only minutes since our two went back to school after their 3-month-plus summer break, but I am so over it already. With both boys having early starts (El starts at 8.25, and Jake has to catch a bus at 8), I’m finding out that I don’t function well, if at all, on 7am starts!
The worst part is that the mornings go…on…for…EVER! We’re child-free from 8.30, more or less, and that extra hour of “work” time in the morning means I’m reaching for the kettle for my “elevenses” when it’s barely 9.30!

Mind you, even Eliot experienced how interminably long a day was here when he was off sick last week. By 11am he was looking to the clocks, swearing that they were moving backwards in time. It does feel like that sometimes!

(Eliot is fine now, btw. He had some sort of throat infection or laryngitis which resulted in his being quite unwell and without a voice for an entire week! Eliot being silent is actually quite disturbing, it turns out!)

So anyway, we’re adjusting to new work schedules, I suppose. Earlier starts with earlier finishes. It’s all compounded by the fact that my eBay account has recently been banned from selling (long story: my fault) so we’ve lost a source of work/income along the way. That’s been a whole other challenge that is still ongoing and yet another thing to which we need to adapt. I can only be thankful that I had finished our Christmas shopping before it happened. Now, if the boys could just stop growing and requiring new clothes…

Speaking of Christmas, I am looking forwards to it. Not just the lie-ins, but the whole break from the norm. Work will be scaled back in general (there will be no dispatch from Jesters which invariably means fewer orders. Great for Christmas and New Year, less so for January income!) and we will ALL have a bit of time off. We’ve (well, I’ve) decided I am not doing a full turkey dinner this year. Quite honestly, it’s a pain. We’re going to do an all-day party food/snack buffet type Christmas. I like that idea much better. I can bake stuff (which I LOVE!) instead of cooking (which I LOATHE). Sounds like a plan. We also have Nik’s sister, Donna, here for the week, so that’ll be a change too.

We did look into eating out for Christmas dinner instead. You can imagine how that panned out!

A lot! That's how much!

It is difficult to think about Christmas while it still feels like summer some days. Sure, the weather is changeable at the minute, but, when the sun shines, it’s warm. Still over 30C in the sun some days, depending on wind direction. Having said that, there is a definite weather shift at the moment and, although I’m still getting my laundry dried outside most days, it’s definitely cooler once that sun goes down. We’re looking forwards to being able to light our wood burner. The dark evenings just make the fire seem right, don’t they?


We’re holding off at the moment though.
There’s something definitely NOT right about lighting the wood fire in the evening when you’re still sleeping with the balcony doors open and no duvet on the bed!

I think that’s all our news really. Nothing much is happening at the moment. We’re struggling a bit with work being a bit quieter this time of year (sales from the countries that are enjoying their Spring/Summer season right now never quite make up for the fact that it is Autumn/Winter in the Europe!) so I guess we’re not going to be doing anything mind-blowingly exciting any time soon!

If anything does happen, I’ll be sure to let you all know!

 

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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.

keep-calm-and-it-l-be-reet

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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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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Continuing the A to Z of Gibraltar, here’s F to I.

F is for Food.

If we’d actually stayed in a hotel in Gibraltar, rather than on the Spanish side of the border, this post might have been a bit different but, as it was, we ate in Spain as often as Gib itself.

Even in Spain, we weren’t in an area that had anything typically Spanish (that might come when we visit Jerez this weekend for the MotoGP) The hotel we stayed at had a pretty good menu though at a fairly reasonable price. We ate there once, I think, and in surrounding restaurants/diners for the other 2 evenings.

One particularly good American Diners (whose name I have forgotten) served the most amazing food! Huge portions, great for the glutton!) It’s probably a good job we only found it on our last evening or we might have come back rather heavier than we went.

In Gibraltar itself, food was pretty much your standard cafe/fast food or restaurant fare. Nothing special. We didn’t find a proper fish and chip shop, which was very disappointing, and we ate, for the most part, fairly average, run of the mill stuff.

The meal we remember, is the diner!

Starter for two!!

Eliot’s meal – we called it “Boy VS Food”. He does look ever so slightly daunted by it (but he DID win!)

 


G is for Gibraltar (obviously!)

There’s lots and nothing much to say about Gib specifically. I mean, you could just look it up on Wikipedia and getting better information, quite honestly.

So, I’ll just share a few photos with you instead.

Queueing at the border on day two (Monday)

Looking back towards Spain from The Rock

The built-up side is really not all that pretty from up top!

The other side, however, is breathtaking.

Did we like Gibraltar? Yes and no.

Would we visit again? Hmmmm, probably. Maybe. Not sure!


 H is for Hercules – The Pillars Of

The Pillars of Hercules (Latin: Columnae Herculis, Greek: Ἡράκλειοι Στῆλαι, Arabic: أعمدة هرقل‎, Spanish: Columnas de Hércules) was the phrase that was applied in Antiquity to the promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. The northern Pillar is the Rock of Gibraltar (now part of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar). A corresponding North African peak not being predominant, the identity of the southern Pillar has been disputed through history,[1] with the two most likely candidates being Monte Hacho in Ceuta and Jebel Musa in Morocco.” Courtesy of Wikipedia

This is of interest for two reasons.
One, obviously, because the northern Pillar is The Rock.


Secondly, because next to our hotel in Spain, there is a new commercial building called “Torres de Hercules” which is quite something!
Click on the link – The architect’s photos are far more impressive than ours!
Or, if you want to see more, check out this page.

(and one with the hotel alongside – apologies for photo quality.  Phone cameras don’t like fading light much.)

 


 

I is for In The Sun

I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but there is a Channel 5 series called Gibraltar – Britain in the Sun.

It was this program that convinced us that we wanted to visit Gibraltar. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Depending on how you feel about British patriotism, you’ll probably either love or hate it.

Whatever your feelings about it, Gibraltar IS Britain in the Sun. That can’t be all bad, can it?

 

 

 

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