Posts Tagged ‘Ponta de Piedade’

It’s taken me a while to get chance to sit down and continue this A to Z. I’m starting to think that the entire alphabet is going to last more than a year. That’s something I never could have imagined at the start! Still, it’s a nice project to be getting on with and a bit of motivation to do more than just post photos on Facebook each time we do something fun!

Anyway, I’ve had my P topic for a while. Actually, I had several ideas for my P topic but lately which one to choose has become clearer.

P is for Priorities

In order to make our move to Portugal, we had to take a good look at our priorities.

Our life in England was comfortable. We had modest income (topped up with tax credits) to allow us to be self-employed and spend some time with our boys but we constantly felt restricted. There was little around us locally that inspired us, as a family and it’s no secret that we’d had itchy feet for a long time.

A move abroad, however, would come with huge sacrifices and definitely required us to look long and hard at our priorities.

In the UK, we could live comfortably in our own home and not have any real worries about money. We had our own 3 bed home with large garden in a pretty outlying village. We had a nice, smart, modern car. We could be in full control of our own business. We could visit family and friends whenever we felt like it. We would be in as much control of our lives as is possible to guarantee in this day and age.  Despite this, we weren’t settled.

In Portugal, there is always a concern that we won’t make ends meet. We work hard to ensure that our business makes enough money to cover our basic living expenses plus a little extra but, in order to do that, we have had to significantly change the way we work. We’ve had to sub-contract out various parts of our business and rely on others working with us. This is a scary position to be in, I can tell you.

We also now live in rental accommodation, something we’ve never done before. Our housing situation is also a little out of our hands as we are constantly aware that our landlady could decide to sell, if she so wanted (fortunately, she has other, empty properties she could sell first and that’d be difficult enough in a stagnant property market!) We had also had to take in tenants in our UK house and this puts another financial strain on our household. All well and good while the tenants are in but a huge burden should they decide to move on.

We own an old banger of a car. But not a cheap car. Oh no. There is no such thing as a cheap car here in Portugal. We now own the oldest car we’ve ever owned (it’s 15 years old) which cost us the most we’ve ever paid for a vehicle!

We’re now half a day or more from family and UK friends. The boys have lost contact with many of their school friends they grew up with and we’ve all had to find new friends in a foreign land.

Life here isn’t easy, by a long shot. It’s financially unstable and, at time, emotionally draining.

However, at the same time, it is beautiful and full of new opportunities.

Ponta de Piedade

Ponta de Piedade

Despite having less money, we are surrounded by things to do.

With the beach just a few minutes walk away, we can visit all year and enjoy the ever-changing scenery it presents us.

A trip to the beach in July

Meia Praia Beach in February!

The boys have both made new friends in school and Eliot, in particular, is happy to find friends where-ever he goes. He can be bossy in TWO languages now!

Boys playing with new friends at the Skate Park, Lagos

We have made some great friends ourselves and now get to spend quality time with them too, often enjoying outdoor visits, picnics, meals and new places together.

Our newly made good pals Dave and Aly (wave, guys!)

As well as making new friends, UK family and friends visit us here which is something that never happens in England!

My little sis on one of her (many!) visits

We get to learn about and share in a new Portuguese way of life, with it traditions and festivals.

Loulé Carnival 2012

And, as the Algarve typically has few weeks of bad weather per year, for 90+% of the year, all this happens in the sun, of course!

Sunrise on Meia Praia Beach

So, yes. We’ve made sacrifices with our move to Portugal.

We’ve sacrificed income, control, our own home, a nice car, ease of communication and having family on our doorstep.

In return, we have beautiful days, fabulous places, great friends and regular visitors.

A fair trade-off? I’d say so.

It’s all about priorities, innit?

It’s a hard life but someone’s gotta do it!


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N has proved tricky. As you can probably tell by the length of time it has taken me to actually do my “N is for..” post, a suitable topic has eluded me. So, I’ve kinda cheated a bit.

N is for New Experiences

Since we moved to Portugal, nearly 2 years ago, life does feel like it’s been one long road of “firsts” for us. So much new “stuff” has happened.

New country

New town and new home

New ways of working

New schools (ha! brain thought “schools”, fingers started to write “escolas”!)

Escola EB1 Meia Praia (Eliot’s little school)

New friends

Self-taken photo at school, by Eliot!

Image courtesy of Click! Luz

New places to visit

Fontes de Estombar

Portimão Marina

National Forest of Barão de São João

Loulé Carnival

View from Silves Castle

Ponta de Piedade

New beaches to explore

Looking for fish at Praia de Castelejo

Ball games on Meia Praia in February

Christmas Eve on Praia de Batata, Lagos

New things to do

Centro Ciência Viva de Lagos

Dolphins at Zoomarine

Slide and Splash, Lagoa

Eliot scuba diving in the pool at Click! Luz kids club

Surf Lessons at Praia de Odeceixe

New language

There’s a lot to learn!

Jake doing his Portuguese homework

Eliot’s Portuguese work books

New hobbies

Baking – everything from brownies…

..to bread

New foods

Seafood platter to die for!

Meal at The Waterfront Cafe, Portimão

I guess I should stop now really, I think you get the picture?

There’s one thing for certain, life certainly hasn’t been dull since we moved to Portugal!

Long may that continue 🙂

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No, not in a “Rise of the machines” kind of way (Terminator fans will know what I mean) but in a “going up in the tourism world” way.

TripAdvisor have released a list of 15 destinations “on the rise” throughout the world and Lagos, Portugal tops their “World” list!

They don’t share how they’ve created these lists and what they are based on but it’s certainly nice to know and, when you spend any amount of time here, not difficult to agree with!

View from Centro Ciência Viva de Lagos, towards Meia Praia

Lagos Marina

Praia de Dona Ana, Lagos

Sunset from our balconyView towards Portimao from Ponta de Piedade

Across Praia de Batata and Meia Praia

Empty beach in February (Meia Praia, Lagos)

New Year Fireworks

Avenida dos Descobrimentos (our main street)

Lagos Town Centre

We are truly blessed to live in such a beautiful town.

Don’t feel like you all have to come at once, mind you 😉

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Wow, how time flies! Already it’s been over 2 weeks since I blogged! Ouch!
I have good reason though, we’ve been very busy lately. We had my sister, Wendy, visiting with a friend from 31st March for a long weekend. I’d only met Richard once, for Wendy’s 30th, X years ago (I could blab but I won’t 😉 ) and I’m sure he wasn’t sure what to expect in our house! We’re all too well aware that we are not an easy family to live with but Richard seemed to fit right in. The boys loved him and he was great with them too.
I even had a night out on the town with Wendy and Richard! Well, we started on the beach with a bottle of wine, then wandered over the the Irish Bar (Pickle and Pie) in the Marina where we met a couple of Irish girls who were working there (well, supposedly!)
They led us to a bar in town and, before we knew it, it was 3am!Needless to say, I didn’t see much (any) of Friday!

Wendy and Richard, however, did a 10 mile walk from Burgau back to Meia Praia, Lagos on Friday! Daft folk!

Richard walking from Luz to Lagos

Quirky trees

On Saturday, we did a family trip out to Ponta de Piedade. It’s one of those places we seem to take ALL our visitors and Richard remembered this place from visiting Lagos as a child (his Grandma had a property in the town) so it was a step back in time for him. He, Nik (and, later, Jake) went climbing over the rocks, as far as was safe, and Richard scaled dizzy heights (he’s an experienced climber so was more confident and able than most!)

Richard climbs to dizzy heights

Richard, Nik and Jake

Those steps into oblivion!

Jake walked back from Ponta de Piedade with Wendy and Richard (which is probably about 4km)

Richard and Jake at Praia do Camilo

Saturday night was Nik’s turn out on the town! We went out for dinner, at Adega da Marina and then Wendy, Richard and Nik went out for a quick drink. Ahem….did I say quick? Needless to say it was 2.30am before they came home. Luckily, Nik doesn’t drink so he was fine 🙂

Nik and Richard in Lagos

The non-drinker poses for an incriminating photo!

Sunday was a quieter day. The weather was a bit dull first thing but  we did all do a family walk along Meia Praia for a couple of hours.
Wendy and Richard flew back Monday morning so it was only a short break but it was lovely having them here.

The boys broke up from school on Friday so we made plans to go camping on Sunday. After investigating a few campsites, we decided on a site near Silves. Details of the trip will be on our camping blog shortly.
We actually had to come home earlier than we really wanted to just because it was too hot to be in the tent. We can wile away the time fairly well between us but it was unbearable hot in there and we just couldn’t set foot in it between about 10.30am and 4pm! As we’d chosen somewhere remote and it was still out of season (so the few amenities there were, like the pool, were not yet open) we just couldn’t stay longer. Shame really. We need to lose about 5C in temperature to go again, I think. That doesn’t discount it being this side of summer though. The weather is still changeable at present. It’s been up in the mid 30s over the past few weeks and the beaches are REALLY filling up now that the UK schools are also on holiday.

So, we’re up to date. The boys are off school and we’re all counting down to our next visitors!

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OK, I confess. I can’t remember when I last blogged. It’s been pretty busy around here lately.

As if preparing for Christmas wasn’t hectic enough, we have invested in new ecommerce software for our business and we’ve pretty much had to spend every waking moment, kids allowing, getting it updated with thousands of products, ready for a January release.

Timing probably couldn’t be worse as of course the lead-up fortnight is a) Christmas and New Year and b) School holidays! Ah well, no challenge is no fun, eh?

The boys are happy to be on Christmas holidays. Both had Christmas performances at school and they both did well considering the short time we’ve been here. Jake played Jingle Bells with his class and Eliot admirably remembered his line, in Portuguese, for the little school’s christmas play.

They’ve both done so well in their first term. Jake is positioned 9th in his class (of 19) so far. Not bad considering! (Doesn’t say much for the people below him, perhaps!)

Eliot is settling slowly. He still says, with heart-wrenching regularity, that he wants to go back to England because he misses his friends and family but I’m sure that, in time, he will realise he is settling in here and finding new friends. He’s done (they both have) better than we could ever have wished for.

We were pretty excited about our first Christmas here in Portugal. My little sister had planned to join us so we wouldn’t be all ‘alone’ and the kids were very excited! We’ve never done a Christmas alone. We’ve ALWAYS been either at Nik’s parent’s or mine’s house for Christmas lunch (with the exception of ONE year when I did dinner for both sides, about 12 years ago and last Christmas which we spent in Australia, with Nik’s cousin and family. Details of that trip here)

I love NOT having to cook Christmas dinner (let’s face it, I love not having to cook EVER!) but this year was special. Our first in Portugal. It was a big thing for all of us really.

It was touch and go as to whether Wendy would even make it before Christmas. Flights the weekend before had been cancelled (due to snow) and only the day before’s flight had actually left Gatwick, albeit 2 hours late. Wendy’s flight did make it though, 45 minutes late, and everyone was excited to see her.

Christmas kinda started at that point!

We spent Thursday getting last minute Christmas shopping for various veg and presents.

Lagos Marina. Christmas Eve Eve

Christmas carrots are a thing here. The lady in the market introduced us to them while we were getting excited about having found parsnips on her stall. These Christmas carrots have a thick purple skin and are white inside. Oddly though, they totally smell and taste like ‘normal’ carrots. Very bizarre! So we bought half a dozen to cook alongside the others.

Christmas Carrots

Christmas day came and there was much present opening. The boys had been ‘told’ 7am but hey, they’re kids. Jake (who was sleeping on a mattress on the floor in our room, while we have guests) had been tossing and turning all night and Eliot appeared at 6.15 announcing that he ‘couldn’t be bothered to go back to sleep for an hour’!

So, presents were opened, paper was strewn, boxes were untaped and much fun was had by all. Wendy took herself back to bed for a few hours mid morning while the boys played, built and discovered.

We now have a Pirate and Superman to add to our HUGE dressing up box

Pirate Eliot

Nik and Jake building an Aircraft Carrier

Of course, there was much wine drunk on Christmas Day too. Only by Wendy and me (Nik doesn’t drink) but we did ok. When the bubbly was opened, we resorted to tall half pint glasses rather than what Wendy considered to be my poxy small wine glasses! I’d been saving 2 bottles of Sir Cliff Richards bubbly for Christmas and, amazingly, it lasted til then too! More details here

Sir Cliff's bubbly

We stayed up late watching movies on the projector. Nik is very fond of his projector and, while I might have been unkeen to begin with, especially as we had to rearrange the living room furniture to accomodate it, it does make for a pretty awesome movie experience alongside the sound system!

Top Gear goes to the wall

On Boxing Day, we took a trip into Alvor. We parked up near the new promenade and then did some climbing/clambering up hillsides to walk along the river edge top. We all ended up stripped down to t shirts as it got pretty warm!

Alvor - Boxing Day 2010

Little ruined house on the hill - Alvor boxing Day 2010

The "kids" find a tree!

Ice Cream in Alvor - Boxing Day 2010

We had a great afternoon out!

Monday was Wendy’s last day (she flew home on Tuesday. Booooooooo!) so we took a short trip out to Ponta de Piedade. It’s a great place to go to pass an hour or so enjoying the view. The day wasn’t quite as clear as Alvor but it was still lovely.

Wendy at Ponta de Piedade

Wendy and Eliot at Ponta de Piedade

The Steps at Ponta de Piedade

These steps! There are as many of these again that you CAN’T see on this photo! I managed the first run and then it dawned on me how far down it went. I bottled the rest! Nik, Wendy and Eliot went all the way down. Eliot, in fact, did it THREE times! Oh to be 7 years old!!

On the way home, Nik dropped Wendy and me off ‘downtown’ and we had a walk along Praia de Batata. The beach was completely empty and we wandered through coves I’d not been in before.

Wendy stood on a turtle's head!

Well, now Wendy has gone, we’re back to some sort of reality here “Chez Hands”

Jake has his bedroom back (as do we!) and we’re back to working all hours (again, kids permitting!)

We’re planning to head up to the roof for New Years. We could head down to the beach (as many do) and watch the fireworks along the bay as they start at Portimao and work their way, in sequence, through Alvor to Lagos. All of which are visible from the beach here. We’re not sure the boys will actually make it to midnight though so it seems unfair to set up at the beach. We’ll grab some drinks and nibbles and watch from the roof instead. That way, if someone does want to go to bed, we only have to head downstairs.

So, that’s it for now. The boys are enjoying their Christmas break. They’re back to school on Monday (no bank holiday here. They don’t shift weekend holidays to the nearest weekday/monday like the UK does) so we will be back to work in earnest then.

Meantime, Happy New Year to all and here’s to a Portuguese 2011 for us!

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It’s true. It doesn’t (well, it very rarely does) snow in the Algarve. It’s not unheard of but it’s most definitely a freak event. If Algarvians ever received the amount the UK has had, they’d believe Armageddon was upon us and start jumping into the sea, I think!

Needless to say, we haven’t seen any of this snow apart from on TV and in various emails/twitter/facebook posts from friends, family and other animals! I did notice a trend though.

Day 1 – “Oh look, it’s snowing. Yippee, Yay  etc” Anywhere without snow complains about the fact they have no snow and those who do have snow brag about it.

Day 2 – Places that didn’t get snow on day 1 get snow “Yay, yippee etc”. Kids, in places that had snow on day 1, enjoy a “snow day”. Everyone is still bragging to those who have no snow.

Day 3 –  Bragging stops but people still enjoy their ‘snow day’

Day 4 – “It’s still snowing but we need milk/bread/insert necessity here and the car is stuck in the drive”

Day 5 – “Still snow and we can’t get out of the door, let alone the house. That’s enough snow now. We hate snow and never want to see snow again”

Now, I don’t know about you but I would gladly do without days 1 and 2 if it means I get to avoid days 3, 4, 5 and all the rest that follow! That said, I’ve added some seasonal, festive snow to the blog which will show until January 4th. Hopefully you WON’T all still be snowed in by then!

I am so very glad to be here in Portugal where it doesn’t snow, TYVM!

So, anyway, snow aside, we’ve had a mixed few weeks. Hubby enjoyed a ‘significant’ birthday (old fart is 40!) and MIL flew over to join us. We spent a beautiful day at Ponta de Piedade one Tuesday morning while the boys were at school. A true reminder of a) how beautiful this place is and b) how much more favourable the weather is (note NONE of my photos contain ANY snow!)

30-12-2010 Ponta de Piedade, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

30-12-2010 Ponta de Piedade, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

30-12-2010 Ponta de Piedade, Lagos looking towards Luz

View from Ponta de Piedade, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

Praia do Camilo (just 2 minutes from Ponta de Piedade) Lagos

Beautiful, isn’t it? We were out for a couple of hours and, aside from being a bit chilly (light jacket weather) it was lovely. In fact, we did ditch the coats by the time we got to Praia do Camilo, as you can see below!

Look, no jacket!

That’s not to say we haven’t had some chilly weather. The end of last week and Saturday were particular chilly at times. If the sun’s out, it’s LOVELY but without it? Nah, it was chilly (I can’t say “cold” because it was still 8-10 degrees!)

We’ve also had a smattering of fairly significant rainstorms and thunderstorms. It’s amazing hearing the thunder rattle around out to sea. It goes on for aaaaaaaages and the rain on the balconies is darned noisy too!

Having said that, yesterday we went shopping and togged up prepared for cold again as it was overcast all morning. Left the apartment only to find it was 20 degrees outside and we ended up shedding various layers throughout the afternoon!

It’s unpredictable, sure. But not in a miserable, British weather kind of way.

Suffice to say, I know which I prefer!

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