Posts Tagged ‘sunshine’

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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Really, how could I have chosen anything else?

With a "home office" like this, what more could you want?

L is for Lifestyle

When people ask us why we moved to Portugal, we come out with a whole list of reasons but, for the most part, they can all be grouped under one overall title – Lifestyle.

Moving to a country which is far deeper into recession (not to mention overall poverty and disadvantage) might seem like a strange move for a young family (I’ll ‘fess up. By “young family”, I mean the children are young. The parents, not so much!)

Fortunately for us, our income itself isn’t reliant on the Portuguese economy or, quite honestly, we wouldn’t be here. There are no jobs. End of. (see my J is for Jobs post, if you haven’t already read it)

We’re certainly not wealthier for living here. Far from it. In fact we are, financially, quite a lot worse off, having lost our “benefits” that the UK was kind enough to bestow on us for being “low earners” in England. The cost of living, on the whole, isn’t much cheaper here in Portugal either. Rent is costly, utilities are about on par with England (maybe a little lower), grocery bills are about equal. Nowadays, in Portugal, we live on about 2/3 of the income we had in the UK so we have a LOT less disposable income than we had before we moved here. Yet, in life, we feel “better off”.

Our “lifestyle” in England consisted of get up, take kids to school, go to work, pick kids up, eat dinner, go to bed, start over. It’s how most people’s lives go, isn’t it?

Weather is unreliable and unpredictable so plans, for days out, are tentative at best.

Kids rarely have anywhere safe to play. No safe roads to bike. Few safe neighbourhoods to play out in. Jake was pretty much resigned to “four walls” whenever he wasn’t at school and, while Eliot would play out in the garden occasionally, his fate would, sooner or later, be the same.

We also didn’t have much of a social life. Let’s face it, once you have kids, your social life pretty much revolves around your kids and people they are associated with (kids’ parents etc) Certainly, from my point of view, I didn’t really have any “real life” friends in the UK. Friends I saw personally on a day-to-day basis, that is. I have plenty of online friends though (some of whom I have met) and, of course, I get to keep those just as close to me even after we move. Bonus! (Check out my “F is for Family and Friends” post, if you missed it earlier)

Here, everything is a completely different pace… and feel.

We would never, ever in a month of Sundays let Jake go, alone, into town in England. It was a bus-ride away (not an issue) but totally not somewhere I could even contemplate him “hanging out”.

Here, pretty much since we moved here (at age 10) he has been cycling into town on his own.  He’s done errands to the supermarket and newspaper shops and cycled to the other side of Lagos to meet and spend the afternoon with friends. It’s a million worlds away from our life in the UK, just on that issue alone.

Even Eliot takes himself out and plays. He’ll often be seen running around our “Urbanização”, dressed as some superhero or another, fighting invisible enemies and keeping the peace. Or riding his bike round the block. Or taking the recycling to the bins on the other side of the estate.

My little Superman. Keeping your streets safe!

Our day-to-day pace of life is completely different here too. Nik and Eliot very often go for unplanned cycles to the beach after school. It’s part of the beauty of the place that, for 90% of the year, the weather is favourable enough to do that!

Nik and Eliot cycle to the beach after school

An unplanned visit to "our" beach in November. Almost deserted AND warm enough to be wearing just short sleeves!

Of course, as we are lucky enough to work for ourselves here in Portugal, we are able to take advantage of the occasional *cough* cafe visit during the week too. This is purely to “fit in”, of course.  It’s what the locals do etc. etc. When in Rome ‘n’ all that!

Hanging out for a coffee and/or beer. As the locals do!

It’s not all “sun, sea and sangria” though, of course. Life certainly isn’t one long holiday like some people might imagine (or perhaps hope!) it is. Sure, we do our share of “touristy” stuff when we have visitors over, it’d be rude not to but, for the most part, we do work. The Portuguese (those who are lucky enough to have jobs) work very hard for little pay but even they, in these “gloomy times”, enjoy a 2 hour lunch break where they can relax, kick back, eat good food and be social. A far cry from sandwiches at your desk in 30 minutes, eh?

Lunch special at the Waterfront Café in Portimão

Work hard, play hard. That’s what we’ve been enjoying here.

It’s a far cry from the work hard (?), moan a lot mentality.

I know which I prefer.

It sure is a tough life!

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We’ve had some lovely weather over the past couple of days. We’ve had some pretty dodgy weather beforehand, mind you, but now that the UK tourists have gone home (kids are back at school in the UK now – ours have been back a week already here in PT!) the weather is doing as it usually does. Turning nice again!

I’m going to apologise in advance for the picture quality of all of these. Some are taken on iPhone, some on the iPad!

Nik took this photo yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, when he and Eliot rode their bikes down to the beach.

It’s a surreal-looking photo. Almost looks photo-shopped! In fact, one of Salvador Dali’s melty clocks wouldn’t look out of place there!

This morning, it was such a beautiful morning that I took a few pics from our balcony.

View from balcony, towards beach, boatyard and town

View from Balcony towards Marina and Boatyard

Eliot ended up with a day off school today. We went into school this morning only to be informed that the year 3-4 teacher was not in today or tomorrow and “see you Wednesday! Ho hum.

Oh well, Spiderman was able to take time out from his busy people-saving schedule for a bit or R’n’R and posing! (yes, we did actually walk to town with him dressed like this!)

Spiderman strikes a pose - or something (apologies for the smear on the camera lens!)

It’s been pretty windy still today so Eliot and Nik headed down to the beach for a bit of kite-flying, while the beach was empty!

Eliot flies his kite on the empty beach

It’s at that time of year when everything looks beautiful in the sun but the tourist “hoards” haven’t arrived yet. We’ll make the most of it, while it lasts!

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