Posts Tagged ‘rain’

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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I was tempted to choose “weather” for the W part of my Portugal A-Z, but decided against it. However, I suspect it will feature greatly in my chosen topic anyway!

W is for Winter.

Believe it or not, this is late December weather. 2012

It is entirely not unusual to end an outing, during the Algarve winter, with jackets and jumpers removed and sleeves pushed up.

It’s become a tradition for us, since moving to Portugal, to do a Boxing Day trip to Alvor, walking along the beach front (and new promenade) to the end where we then climb up the hill and walk along the estuary.

The above photo was 2012. The below photo is 2011.

Alvor Boxing Day Riverside Walk 2011

Alvor Boxing Day Riverside Walk 2011

And this one below is from 2010 – you can see that the weather is fairly consistent throughout!

Alvor walk 2010

Alvor walk 2010

Suffice to say, that winters are rather milder in the Algarve than in the UK – one of the main reasons that some people like to spend their winters here, of course.

And that’s something we notice – a complete shift in the type of visitor that the Algarve tends to get in the winter.

In summer, the towns and beaches are filled with every genre of person: from families to back-packers and from young couples to pensioners.
During the cooler, winter months, however, there are far fewer families and couples, and there is a general shift towards the “older generation” who appear, at times, by the coach load!

Some come just on bus trips, enjoying the significantly milder weather (compared to their native countries, that is) and the quieter pace of the Algarve winter (in comparison to the craziness of the Algarve summer season). They pull up in their fancy coaches and pile out en masse, following chirpy tour guides. It always makes me smile to see a large group of people making a special day of a trip to the town where we live. It’s nice to think that our hometown is somewhere worthy.

Some, of course, come for much longer, with many retired apartment-owners visiting for the entire winter. Quite how these people then drag themselves away again, at the end of it, I’ve no idea!

Outside the weather rarely drops into single figures during the day and even more rarely below freezing at night. There might be a light frost on high ground but we have never noticed it. The sun, through glass, gives the impression of being sat in a conservatory during an English summer, which is actually rather nice! Some days, it reaches the 20s, some nights it might hover in the mid single figures, but overall, it’s pretty pleasant.

Average temperatures throughout the year.

Average temperatures throughout the year.

When you compare that to England (I’ve chosen Leicester, being sort of fairly middle-ish in the country from the list I could choose from!)

It's rather chillier! I know where I'd rather be (no offence, Leicester!)

It’s rather chillier! I know where I’d rather be (no offence, Leicester!)

Obviously, the winter isn’t all warm sunshine and statuses to make your Facebook friends envious. We do, in fact, get some pretty horrid weather too occasionally.

Sometimes, it’ll rain and rain and rain for days on end, and we moan about it. We complain about one full day of rain, not because we are generally wont to moan, but just because we forget how horrid it is and we feel cheated when it rains! We get over it pretty quickly when the sun comes back out again though 🙂

Barragem da Bravura (Dam) in January

One thing that we do suffer with in winter is very cold homes! Many Algarve homes don’t have central heating, with most only having a wood-burning fire in the main room. We have one which kicks out fabulous heat but, of course, only in the lounge! The rest of the apartment feels even colder in comparison and we often spend our evenings snuggled up by the fire before shivering off to the bedroom where we will then snuggle into the electric blanket (shhh, don’t tell the kids – they don’t have them! That said, they rarely even sleep in pyjamas!).

The rooms get cold though! Very cold. I can often be found wearing my big fleece dressing gown over my clothes, during the day, or begging Nik to light the fire early!

Our wood-burning fire. Ambient AND warm.

Another thing that changes as we reach the Algarve winter, is the sunset. We go from clear orange sky sunsets to a stunning kaleidascope of reds, oranges, yellows and pinks.

A summer sunset over town, from our balcony.

A slightly cloudier-looking early winter sunset

And, of course, in the winter, it’s a much more sensible hour in which to see the sun RISE! (It does that too!)

So, while we may shiver and moan a bit indoors, during the winter, we probably actually spend MORE time outdoors, where the weather is more bearable than the searing heat of the summer. Of course, Autumn is the season with the better weather, I think. Spring tends to be a bit unpredictable (think British summer-type weather! Boiling one day and tipping it down the next!) before it heats up for summer and then tapers off for autumn.

This is a “winter” post, of course, so I shan’t dwell on those. Maybe if I’d chosen weather…

Something else we do more of in winter is bake! It’s quite nice for the kitchen to be bearable, with the oven on for hours, as I cook hearty teas (that’s dinner for you Southerners) and bake scrummy cakes. Pies, casseroles and bakes are all back on the menu. Yay!

Winter pies take over from plates of salad (yay!)

There’s one thing I will say about winter in the Algarve though, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Looking out from Silves Castle in early February.

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There is, after all, one more important update to add!

This morning, we had Eliot’s end of term/year parents’ meeting. 9am really is a ridiculous time of day to have it during the school holidays though. I’m rarely even awake at that time but anyway, we went (en masse) to hear what was going on and results etc.

We really didn’t know what to expect with Eliot’s result. We know he’s been doing well in maths and his “Estudo do Meio” has only been held back by the language barrier rather than his actual knowledge and, for the most part, he’s been working with the year 2 students (his class) in these 2 subjects.

His verbal Portuguese is amazing! He can natter away with the best of them in the playground and on the beach (a couple of English kids actually didn’t speak to him, on the beach the other day, because he was chattering to the Portuguese kids, in Portuguese, and the English kids didn’t realise he was English!) but there are obvious huge gaps in his vocabulary and he’s been working with the year 1 students in the school (advantage of one amalgamated class of years 1-4!)

He did pass his end of year exams but they were a mix of both year 1 and year 2 so I don’t think any of us really expected him to progress into year 3 and so we spent some time sort of discreetly preparing him for the worst. He said he was ok with doing year 2 again (in the knowledge that, having done it once, he’d get it all right second time around!) but I know he really wanted to pass, like his brother.

Well, HE DID!! His school report was very good. Praised him (and us!) for working hard and fitting in well and his teacher has confidence that, language barrier aside (which will fade with a bit more time) he’ll be fine in year 3 and beyond.


Congratulations to both of our boys

Even if he hadn’t passed, he would still have shared a classroom and playground with the same friends but at least he has the boost of moving up with his year.

So, both our boys progress. They’ve both done so well. I don’t think any of us ever expected that either, let alone both, would learn so much in the relatively short time we’ve been here and pass their first years in Portuguese schools.

Kudos to them and here’s to more hard work and rewards

So, now we can concentrate on our visit to England tomorrow. We are only there for a week but we already have so much planned! Accountants, banks, hairdressers, friends, family, school and more!  So many people to see, so little time!


I know which we prefer!

Oh, and we’re bringing rain, apparently.

Not sure where we’re bringing it from (it certainly isn’t here! No rain for at least 4 weeks and none expected until about October LOL) but, looking at the forecast, it seems as though we’re dragging it along from somewhere!

Sorry ’bout that, folks!

We’re hoping, at least, for nice weather on Sunday because we’re planning a family BBQ for Eliot’s birthday (we had one before we left, last year) so one day of sun would be nice, thank you very much!

I suppose it’ll give us a reminder (as if we needed one!) of why we left in the first place and ensure that we’re glad to be home again, when we come back, eh?!

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There’s no denying that, as winters go, in Portugal they (we!) get off lightly!

While friends and family are bemoaning the freezing weather, snow and ice, we found ourselves sat out on the balcony and doing day/afternoon trips to the beach and nearby towns.

Sure, the temperature drops but only to the “wear a cardigan and better take a jacket, just in case” levels of 10-15C!

Last winter was unusually wet. This we know from residents and from our own recce visits last winter where it rained and rained and rained! Luckily, that is NOT usual of a Portuguese winter (quite honestly, if it had been we probably wouldn’t be here right now!) and this winter has been, I understand, more ‘normal’ with a mix of showery days and springlike ones.

As my Mum has just left after staying here for 10 days, we were hoping for an emphasis on spring-like for the duration of our stay. Sadly, we were disappointed.

The week prior to her visit was beautiful. The normal “Lagos Wind” (which is a weather condition, rather than a medical one!) had all but died for a good few weeks and we were experiencing 40C on the balconies by mid afternoon! How I LOVE our suntrap balconies! 20+C afternoon temperatures are not to be sniffed at mid-winter, for sure!

So, we approached her arrival with high hopes of a sunny, warm week or so. Well, the weather obliged for 2 days. Then, it rained. And it blew. And it rained some more. We had thunder, lightening, downpours, gales. You name it, we had it (obviously, no snow though! This is the Algarve, after all 😉 )

It was interspersed with short sunny spells during which we nipped here and there a few times but, on the whole, it pretty much seemed “British” (apart from the general air temperature for February) all week. Then, as Mum was due to leave on Sunday, things started to pick up. Friday was lovely, Saturday was, again, iffy and Sunday was beautiful!

This week’s weather forecast is for much of the same as Sunday. Plenty of sunshine and we expect our suntraps to reach 30+ degrees once more.

This will please those visiting here for half term week but won’t please my poor Mum, of course, who now finds herself back in the UK (and freezing once more) without even so much of a watch tan line to show for her 10 days here! If she’d arrived this weekend, it’s entirely possible she could have worked on that tan. Typical, huh? I guess the temperamental British weather followed her to Portugal. Thankfully, she took it back with her!

Oh well, Mum and her partner, Rod, are visiting for a week in May so we’ll cross our fingers that they’ll get better weather then!

Meanwhile, a few photos of Eliot while we were at the beach yesterday afternoon. Flying his kite 🙂

Eliot with his kite. Meia Praia, Lagos. February 20th 2011

Eliot with his kite. Meia Praia, Lagos. February 20th 2011

Eliot with his kite. Meia Praia, Lagos. February 20th 2011

Who is cooler? Eliot? Or the Owl?

Eliot with his kite. Meia Praia, Lagos. February 20th 2011

There were actually some HUGE waves out there (just behind a ridge in the sand though so can't really see them on camera here)

P.S. I really am going to try to blog here much more often than I currently am doing! Honest, guv!

If I don’t and you want an update, give me a prod!

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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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