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Posts Tagged ‘Lagos’


It’s inexcusable really, and I can’t use “I was busy” as an excuse for every hour of every day, can I?
I guess it’s been a combination of not having chance and not wanting to actually blog at all.

It is so very much harder to continue this blog here in England.
It feels almost fraudulent and so I may let it slide in its current form.
But while I make that decision (which may happen during the course of creating this post), I’ll catch you all up.
I’m aiming for brief catch up, but I make no promises!

As you know, we – Nik, Eliot and I – went to Portugal for a 9-day holiday at the beginning of October.

Eliot and Nik were super-excited about it and they loved the whole trip. The accommodation was booked in the area we’d lived in so it was like being home… except when it wasn’t.

We did plenty to keep occupied as much as we could afford (holidays are EXPENSIVE, aren’t they?!)

We played minigolf. Twice actually. It’s great fun and reasonable value if you do the full 18-hole course (honestly, DON’T bother with the 9-hole unless you have toddlers)

We – well, Eliot – played in the pool. Not bad for October, eh?

He even took his skateboard (we’d had to check a suitcase in especially to take it!)

He met with school friends (I don’t think WordPress.org allows me to embed the video but Eliot has it posted  here )

We met with most of our friends we had made while out there: a shout out to Dave and Aly; Phil, Julie, Luke and Jasmine; Peter and Lesley; Matt; Antonio and Rita; everyone at The Lighthouse and apologies if I missed anyone.

“Did you eat at The Lighthouse?” I hear you ask.

Well, dur!

We ate at all the places we knew we liked to eat and went to all the places we knew we liked to go and Eliot and Nik had a fabulous time.
I know you’ve noticed by now so I’ll go ahead and answer that question in your heads: not really, no.

I think if it had been anywhere else, it would have been a holiday and it would have been fine and great, but being on holiday in somewhere that was home.
Not so much.
It felt awkward and every time they were loving “being home” I was feeling worse and worse about the decision to move back to the UK. The more they had fun, the worse I felt.

I’ve told them that next time they can go without me, and I mean it. I actually don’t want to go back to visit again.

Maybe when the campervan is done.

The van is progressing slowly. Naff weather has hampered progress a bit and, even thought we have, for the time being, moved on to internal works (we’re currently installing electrics and final fixing ceiling panels with their vinyl coverings and lights) it’s still so cold in the garage that it’s not much fun out there. We’ve resigned ourselves to being a bit out of action until after the snowy weather for now. No point making it a chore! It’s supposed to be fun!

So we’ve done some van bits and been working and schooling and oh yes, let’s have a school update then!

Eliot is coming on well. We had been concentrating quite heavily on his maths but we’ve scaled it back to 2-3 times a week now and it’s keeping the interest up.

He’s been home edding since the start of May now so that’s 8 months although 2-3 months of that has been summer/Christmas vacations, I guess, but in the 6 months we’ve been learning, his maths age has gone up from about 9yrs 10m to about 11yrs and 8m. That’s nearly a 2 year leap in 6 months which is phenomenal. I wish he could see just how far he’s come!

I’m taking a gently, gently approach with English. We’ve learned some interesting stuff, the usual yawns about nouns, verbs, adverbs etc, but more fun was trying to remember the WORD onomatopoeia (I’m going to thank my computer for its spellcheck at this point!) from one lesson to the other, and I’m currently tackling something specific that he has trouble with: comprehension.

He’s frequently said that adult conversations (and movie dialogue etc) is completely alien to him and I think he just needs to read/hear more, so I’ve started reading to him.

Yep, at 12-years-old, I’ve started reading to him! I’ve chosen a book he likes to begin with – A Minecraft storybook – but I’ve encouraged him to ask about words he doesn’t know and phrases he doesn’t understand and I think it’ll definitely help.

So that’s Eliot!

Jake – who turned 16 this December gone! –  is studying hard (!) for his Maths and English GCSEs which he is taking this summer. He’s had decent grades in his English assessments so far and we’re hopeful he’ll pass both easily enough (he’s brainy; he should!).

It should be enough to get him into Lincoln college in September to study…well, here’s news actually… not plumbing!

He’s now decided he’d prefer to be an electrician and we’re behind him 100%. Plumbing would be excellent and he’d do well for work, I’m sure, but being an electrician could be so much more flexible. He could end up employed doing something off on a tangent from electrical work or he could ultimately become the self-employed electrician that he hopes to be, but I do think it’ll offer him many more opportunities.

Either choice is good, but electrician is the one we’ve applied to college for.

I love that he has goals!
Jake has life goals!

Sheesh, after they year we’ve had, I never thought I’d say that!

What else happened?

Jake drove his first car: a Lamborghini Gallardo at a local track day. That was fun!

And we went to the motorcycle show where Eliot could sit on any bike he wanted which was ALL of them…TWICE. He LOVED that!

We (well, in fairness, mostly Nik) removed our open log fire and replaced it with a wood burner.

We went to a gaming convention which was something of an anticlimax but Eliot enjoyed meeting Jacksepticeye (he’s a YouTuber!)

What does 2016 hold in store for the Hands then?

Well, the van is on course to be finished by the summer (of 2016, I hope!) so we’ll be using that a bit to make sure we iron out any snags before we head out into the wider Europe.

There’s school, of course. Jake has exams in May and June and we’re hoping he’ll get some work experience in over the summer before he has to go to college (we’re also hoping college accepts him!)

There’s work. There’s always work. This isn’t a bad thing when you run your own business!

Oh, and I’ve signed up for a beginners Sign Language course at a local training centre. There’s an advanced course later in the year too so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it enough to follow-up with that one and then, who knows?!

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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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Firstly, oops! It wasn’t my intention to completely ignore the blog. It’s not that I had anything specifically better to do (just the usual routine of work and family life), I just… well, didn’t get around to updating.

The last time I posted (apart from our Italy posts), the kids had been off school for a few weeks and were (probably) already driving us bonkers. That pretty much sums up the remainder of the summer holiday up until the point where the boys went back to school on 17th September.

back_to_school

The return to school itself was a mixture of blessed relief and stress.

Eliot was fine. He was, I think, quite happy to be getting back to his friends, and there’s no denying that we were relieved to be getting back to some sort of routine and normality. Once we’d got used to the early mornings, that is!

Jake was less pleased. He’d been moved out of his class group AGAIN due to scheduling issues with his “Portuguese as a Foreign Language” that he does in place of mainstream Portuguese lessons. We understood completely why they’d had to do it, but Jake wasn’t happy about it at all.

That said, now that we are 7 weeks or so in, he’s settled in OK.

He does need a fair amount of blackmail and bribary this year though. This school year is a big exam year for both boys, and they need to pass this year in order to move onto their next stage of education.

If Jake passes, which we hope he will but it really is anybody’s guess, he will move into year 10 which is a change of school. I think in years 10,11 and 12, they choose specifically subjects or subject areas to study, rather than the obligatory set curriculum that they do up to the end of year 9. I have to confess that I don’t know nearly enough about Ensino Secundário (years 10-12 – secondary education) here in Portugal. If anybody wants to educate ME in that area, please do!

If Eliot passes his year (and, it is an “if”), he will move into year 5 and up to the school the Jake is currently in. This is a huge bonus for us because it is just around the corner and it means he will be able to walk or cycle to school rather than us having to drive him there.
There’s a very real fear that he will not pass this year though, specifically because it IS a big exam year. His Portuguese language skills are (apart from his speaking/understanding) just not good enough and he is reluctant to accept additional help. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes. Maybe failing this year is what he needs to accept that he does need some extra help.

Having said all that, I don’t want it to seem like we are expecting him to fail. I think, if he put his mind to it, he could do a lot well, but from a long-term “bigger picture” point of view, we are far less worried about him than Jake actually. Eliot is a strong, independent boy and will succeed in life, I think, whatever he chooses to do, and I don’t believe that his ultimate success will be governed by his academic abilities.

For example, he is outgoing and adventurous. He thinks nothing of chatting to people and being a general sociable soul. He has a particular love of dressing up and going out into town (on his own, I should add) just generally entertaining folk.

How many ten-year-olds do you know that would/could do that?

Eliot in his Morphsuit tn_IMG_1912 tn_IMG_1917

Eliot kinda freaks out some more unknowing lady!

As well as his green Morphsuit, he also has an Assassin’s Creed costume which he sometimes goes into town wearing. He does so love to entertain his audience!

Eliot’s Assassin’s Creed costume

This thing was (and is) truly a battle of wills. It was his birthday present and had to be ordered from overseas. Needless to say, Portuguese customs held on to it for 3 weeks before they delivered it (and they didn’t even charge duty or anything for it, so goodness knows why they held it!).

It’s made up of about 15-20 individual pieces and takes about 10 minutes to even put on! I actually don’t think it is correctly worn in the above photo but it’s the only picture I have of Eliot wearing it. Ask a few tourists from Lagos this summer. They probably have more photos of him than we do! In fact, when he wore his Morphsuit one time, we had got as far as the Marina bridge and it was up for a boat to go through. As we waited, several tourists had photo ops with Eliot!

He definitely has a calling… and i’m fairly certain it has nothing to do with his academic abilities!

So, what else have we done? Not a great deal really.

Back to school, work, general stuff. I visited Wendy for her birthday in early October. We’ve done a few trips out locally but mostly just been getting on with real life.

There have been a few beach visit.

Eliot body boarding

Eliot body boarding on Meia Praia beach.

And a few trips along to Praia de Rocha (the chippie here used to call to us occasionally – it has closed for good now so we probably won’t venture that way often any more)

Sunset across Praia de Rocha

Obligatory sunset “wonky tree” shot

Nik is off to the final round of the MotoGP in Valencia this weekend – lucky him! I’ll just stay home with the kids and watch it on TV. I’m not bitter about it. It promises to be a good end-of-season race. It’s down to two riders for the championship title. Defending champion Jorge Lorenzo or newbie Marc Marquez. We’re all rooting for Marquez here (even though Nik is a die hard Rossi fan!)

The resident Rossi fan (and yes, he’ll be wearing that at the MotoGP this weekend)

I say “Team Marquez!!”

Anyway, it’ll be a big race and I can’t wait to see it (on the telly!)

In other news, we are all going to England for Christmas this year. It was decided that we would do it as a treat for the boys, who are missing their English friends quite a lot. They’re both very excited about it, as are our families. Nik and I are kinda sorta excited mixed with a feeling of “what are we thinking? It’ll be freezing!”

I’m sure it’ll be fun though, and it comes with the bonus of not having to bother putting up Christmas decorations and suchlike and not having to worry about how we are sorting out everybody’s gifts this year. We’re just getting them all shipped to the UK and can do them all face-to-face, which will be nice.

Then, next year, we can get back to having our Christmas in more favourable weather! We shall miss our traditional Boxing Day walk in Alvor! I can’t see us finding a Lincolnshire location that would rival it!

We’re still having some wonderful weather here, with days still reaching high 20s in the sun. We’ve had a few spells of iffy weather, overcast and a few showers, but on the whole, it still feels like summer if you get out there in the sun. Obviously, we don’t do that as often as we’d like really, but we do try to make a point of visiting our local bar, The Lighthouse,  and sitting outside in the sun once in a while.

It doesn’t hurt that it means I can sup a pint or two at the same time, of course.

Quick pint at our local “The Lighthouse” in Lagos Marina

So, I think that’s all our news for now anyway.

I have my next “A to Z of Portugal” post topic sorted and will try to post that soon.

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Some things are really sent to test us, aren’t they?

We’ve had a good summer so far. Goodness knows it’s been long enough!

In the two months since the boys finished school, we’ve had a trip to London, a birthday, a haircut, visitors here and locally, Eliot making new friends and getting re-acquainted with old ones at Kids Club, the occasional trip to a pool and far too many trips to cafés etc as well as getting some work done along the way!

However, now we have entered the “one month to go” stage and I’ve had to start thinking about back to school *cue subtle whoop*

I ordered Jake’s schoolbooks a while ago, when they school lists appeared on the book store website, and he’s already done his great annual “un-boxing” when they arrived. I hadn’t ordered Eliot’s books at the same time because I wasn’t sure if he needed them, as he is repeating the year. Eventually though, I checked his last year’s books and decided they were considerably worked in and I did need to buy new so I checked the book store website and priced them up for his school and year.

I didn’t buy them straight away though.

Last Friday, I went to buy them and had something of a surprise. Eliot’s school suddenly wasn’t listed! Having earlier in the summer read a  new article about school closures (one, I should add, that did give a list but did NOT include any in Lagos) I did go into panic mode! I did some additional digging and found a new, extended list. One including Eliot’s school! I was doubly cross because this information was 3 weeks old and I had no idea!

Eliot’s 2011/2012 class. Years 3 & 4

I can’t possibly get across the panic and fear this made me feel! Eliot was settled at his school. Reluctant, of course, but settled. He had friends, he had support and he had routine. And now, that had been all taken away. Where would he be going now?

Fortunately, while I was finding this news out, Jake’s friend José was here and I borrowed him (and Jake!) to come to Jake’s school (which is the admin head) and see what they could tell me.

Eventually, I found out that he will be going to our next closest school, just across the river. It’s a recently extended school which used to have a stage 2/3 school (years 5 to 9) next door (but that school is now closed and everyone has moved to the new school on the other side of town) and is much bigger. One of my main concerns was that this new school belongs to THAT new stage 2/3 school’s group (agrupamento) and not to Jake’s school, which is right next door to us!

My biggest concern, however, was how Eliot would take this! As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about this whatsoever! We did gloss the story a little, telling him that his school had closed (true) and that all the pupils would be moving to his new school (not true or, at least, we don’t know that!) but he seems fine with the idea! Nik took him for a ride up there on the scooter and he likes the idea of the bigger school (his main worry being how many girlfriends he might end up with!)

My gorgeous boy

As 3 schools have closed in Jake’s grouping, we wondered if there was going to be a re-shuffled of schools in both Lagos groupings. Determined to do plenty more digging into the matter, I did some googling. I did find out that Eliot’s new school and one other HAVE in fact been moved into Jake’s school’s grouping! That was another big relief and it means a) all admin will be done through Jake’s school and we won’t have to trek up to the new school across town and b) the school El will move to will automatically be Jake’s, along with his friends!

So, apart from the initial panic, everything seems to be working out OK. Fingers crossed and touch wood etc.!

Eliot has only a week and a half left at Kids Club this summer, followed by 2 weeks at home before they start school “between 10th and 14th September” which, in reality, probably means Monday 17th!

He’s been reluctant to go to kids club these past few weeks. I think he’s been bored while a few of his friends, from there, have been on a trip to England. They’re due back soon though so hopefully his last week will be less of a battle!

He did do a fantastic dolphin boat trip, which he loved. He took our waterproof camera too and did some great video (which I still need to edit, actually. Note to self: edit video!)

Dolphin boat trip with kids club

The weather has been scorchingly hot on and off this summer too. Definitely hotter (or more frequently hotter) than last summer.

At the moment we are in “weather warning” mode due to high temperatures. With over 40C in the shade and a wind like a tumble drier, I can well see why! We are lucky, I suppose, because we can batten down the hatches. Doors and windows closed, shutters down and fans on (no such luxury as air con here!) and it’s almost bearable.

Unfortunately, this heat also makes the area liable to forest and wild fires and we have had several extensive ones this summer already. I can only hope that this current spell doesn’t bring more.

Smoke, from a wild fire, out towards Bensafrim in early August

Anyway, I think I’ve waffled enough for now.

I’ll just end by posting a group shot from our visit to “O Mundo dos Dinossauros” (Dinosaur World) in Portimão. I’d have proper photos, of dinosaurs ‘n’ stuff, except photography isn’t allowed inside (except in the “digging for fossils in the sand” play area) so there aren’t any! It’s a nice group shot from outside though

From Right to Left (for ease!) Eliot, Jake, Diogo (J & E’s cousin. Nik’s sister’s son) Tiago and Daniella (Diogo’s half brother and sister) 

From Right to Left

Eliot, Jake, Diogo (J & E’s cousin. Nik’s sister’s son) Tiago and Daniella (Diogo’s half brother and sister)

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Now, that’s not to say that we don’t like ALL kinds of visitors (well, maybe there are a few kinds we wouldn’t like but we’re lucky enough not to have had any of “those” yet – other expats will probably know the kind I mean!)

It’s always nice to have visitors, especially first timers. Being able to show people where we live and take them to see some of the fabulous sights we are blessed enough to be close to, is always lovely.

My aunt and uncle have been (mostly) annual visitors to the Algarve in recent years. They always stay in a villa with pool (with friends) near Lagoa and so their place is reasonably close by.

Last week, Mum was staying with us too and we all went over to Judi and Ian’s villa for some pool play and a BBQ.

The boys (that’s all 3 of them) loved being in the pool. It’s a rare treat for us really. In fact, just getting Jake out of the house is a rare treat but he was lured by the idea of the pool (and, no doubt, the food!) because pool means water but no sand. Sand is not Jake’s friend. Or mine. He’s definitely a chip off my block in that respect!

Jake took this one…

… and Eliot took this one! (note Jake’s “post-pool” hair!)

The BBQ was fantastic. It was fabulous to be able to spend many hours chatting and socialising with family. We chatted long and late (until the boys started falling asleep really) and came home tired. It was a great day in a lovely setting.

Later that week, Judy and Ian came over to Lagos to visit us for the afternoon. We ventured into our usual café for a drink and cake (has to be done, of course), came back here for lunch and then drove out to Ponta da Piedade, returning home via the Avenida viewpoint above Praia da Batata.

Towards Portimao from Ponta da Piedade

Towards Luz, from Ponta da Piedade

Admiring the view

Grottos and boat tours at Ponta da Piedade

View atop Praia da Batata

It was lovely to see family here. Hopefully we will see them again sometime soon.

Meantime, we’re into summer now and temperatures are creeping up. It’s endlessly hot and sunny and the boys are off now for summer.

We have school parents’ meetings tonight (Jake’s) and tomorrow (Eliot’s)

I’ll be posting a school update after that 🙂

Oh, and “O is for… ” will come soon, honest!

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I’m behind. I was going to do my next A to Z but, quite honestly, I can’t be bothered.

As I’m firmly of the opinion that blogging (unless for money, I suppose) should never be a chore, I decided to postpone the A to Z and do a personal catch-up post instead.

It’s far less stressful and, if I’m lucky, I may get away with more photos and fewer words. Everyone’s a winner!

We’ve had a few good days out since I last posted and we have had some truly amazing weather at times!

We visited the Fontes de Estômbar with friends, for a picnic. We took a couple of freshly cooked chickens, a big salad and a load of fresh bread rolls and parked ourselves (along with many Portuguese families) on a bench.

Along with the “proper” food, there was less “sensible” food also. Much to Eliot’s (and, it has to be said, Aly’s!) amusement!

Along with a big picnic area, the Fontes also has a river inlet area which is great for cooling off when temperatures are hovering around 40C!

Kids (well, teenagers and probably adults too!) were jumping off the building at the back, into the water

Eliot will take any opportunity to get into water!

We didn’t do much exploring of the area itself but we must go back and do so during the holidays. It has a scenic walk, viewpoints and a park which we didn’t even look at! It was all food, food, food (and swimming…and water spraying!)

Eliot + Watergun = Stand clear!

Apart from visiting here, we’ve been spending a fair bit of time at our local Skate Park. Unfortunately, it isn’t walking distance for the boys (well, not Eliot anyway) so we need to head off there in the car but it is only a couple of minutes through town. We usually set off with a bottle of water, skate board, inline skates and scooter and make a good few hours out of it!

Skate Park in Lagos and No Stress Cafe

The Skate Park is a fantastic place for kids of all ages to let off some steam and burn some excess energy.

It has ramps and poles for skateboarding, scootering or roller skating as well as 2 kids park areas, one for little ones and one for bigger ones.

Of course, there is also a bar/cafe, No Stress Cafe which serves affordable drinks and snacks. Can’t complain at €1,90 for a pint and even their canned drink prices are better than many. They also hold various events such as entertainment for “Dia da Criança” (Children’s Day) and they currently have a TV set up, in their gazebo, for locals to watch the Euro 2012 matches.

It’s also close to some big green areas, great for just “hanging out” while the kids play.

The higher the better!

Like I said, the higher the better!

More climbing in a nearby park area

The whole park area is in a lovely setting. Sure, it’s pretty central in town (as you can see from the surrounding apartment blocks) but it’s also right next to the city walls, which make a lovely backdrop.

Jake’s view from the top of the climbing net

Lagos city walls

View from second park, down towards Skate Park and city walls

As you can see from the above, even a bumpy grassy “knoll” can provide entertainment. Just add one skateboard!

Bumpy can be fun!

It’s a rare thing for both boys to come out with us. Jake is at “that age” where he’d rather stay home than come out with us! Mostly, we don’t mind too much. It prevents sibling fights and Eliot isn’t bothered because he’ll just chat to and play with anyone, whichever language they speak, so he doesn’t worry about arriving with no one to play with!

Of course, as well as days out (which inevitably end up costing us some money, even if it is only a few drinks and fuel) we’ve had days in. We did some balcony sorting recently which freed up some space for one of these

Who says you can’t get a pool on a balcony?!

OK, so it’s not the biggest pool ever but it is a step up from a tiddly paddling pool. It’s a reasonable size and depth and certainly we don’t plan on emptying and re-filling it often (if at all!) so we did find a “mini-pool” treatment pack with an algaecide and chlorine dosing kit so we won’t be paying 10 times as much for our water all summer! We also picked up a cover for it to keep the dust and bits out. It does a pretty good job too actually!

Eliot kicks back and does some fishing

Even Jake braved it, briefly! Well, his feet did!

Jake braves it

To be fair, I haven’t been in yet either. In the height of our 40C summer, maybe it’ll be appealing but, unlike Eliot, I don’t fancy getting in yet!

This is more my kind of “stay-at-home” fun in the sun!

In other news, I had a birthday. 21 again, of course. I wouldn’t usually mention it but, for anyone who hasn’t already seen, I just HAVE to share my presents with you!

I fell in love with these at the recent A3 Art exhibition, held by our good friends Dave and Alyson Sheldrake. It was my absolute favourite painting and I loved that it was inspired by an original photo.

But look! Now they are mine, mine, mine!!

Don’t they look a handsome pair?

I admit, I cried when Nik and the boys gave them to me! I’m a sap like that. I was gutted when I saw that the painting had been marked “sold” on the website so imagine my excitement when, 6 weeks later, it was there in my house!

They have absolutely pride of place in my hallway, where I can pass them many, many times a day and smile EVERY time.

We are also lucky enough to own another of Dave’s photographs, which we won in their exhibition draw so our home is starting to look like a gallery in itself! I love it! (please note, I’ve linked to all original work, on their website, in the name of fairness. You shouldn’t just see the ones I own, you should visit the A3 Art website and see the rest too! Trust me!)

There, that wasn’t a bad post, eh?

I promise I’ll try to get cracking with my “O is for…” post for my  Personal A to Z of Portugal soon. I have the topic, I just need the time.

This Friday (15th June) sees the last day of school for my boys. 3 months of no school. You have to smile, eh? I’ll post a school update when the boys finish and we have end of year results, of course.

We’re also entering “Visitor Season” and may be getting some last-minute visits due to some changing personal circumstances in the UK but hey, we’re flexible, here to help out and we can even provide warmth and sunshine.

What better environment to be in to re-assess your life?

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