Are we really doing this?

It is the 22nd December today and I’m feeling a bit pensive. For years I’ve talked about doing something different at Christmas and this year we’re actually doing it. Doing Christmas at home with all the traditional food and planning has been my total experience of the festive season thus far so this feels like a massive change.

Alvor beach beauties

We’re very very happy that Chris (youngest son) and Mary (youngest daughter in law) have flown over from the UK and rented a wee chalet right next to us on this fine campsite. We’ve got a hire car and we can go exploring to our heart’s content and share our first experience of a non traditional Christmas together. Our friends Katherine and James are on site too so the six of us are going to have a distinctly non traditional day on the 25th. We’re planning a Safari Christmas where we have tapas starters at K&J’s van followed by another course at ours and finally desserts and coffee at Chris and Mary’s. With the inevitable drinks and plans for games and entertainment as we go along this event will probably last all day and well into the evening. We’ll report back after we’ve recovered from our non traditional festive excesses. As I write this Shirley is listening to a spoof song about Christmas to the tune of the Can Can that makes fun of the fact that Christmas is all about shopping. The good news about this particular one is that we’re doing very little of that massively over rated activity. Secret Santa on the day to the grand value of €10 for one present is the sum total of our Christmas shopping activity. If we’ve learned anything on this trip it’s that shopping as a pursuit of happiness is not for us. Watching Atlantic breakers on a deserted beach in the sunshine on December 20th wins hands down.

Boom! Atlantic breakers make a fearsome noise when they hit the stacks.

Alvor beach was spectacularly beautiful. We parked at a quiet end where the sand is wide and flat and walked towards the craggy cliffs and rocks that looked, from our perspective, to be the end of the bay. To our amazement, once we got up close, you could walk under natural archways and round small headlands to find a number of tiny sheltered coves. The breakers make a massive booming sound as they hit the sea stacks, the water is truly aquamarine, the sand soft and the whole place, at this time of the year, very nearly deserted. Mary did see a nude man sunbathing but thankfully didn’t tell us until we were back at the car. She’s a kind girl – managed to keep a straight face and everything. We were all dazzled by the beauty of the place and we kept having to say “This is December – Wow!” After our three and a half mile walk we were hungry so we found a small fish restaurant right by the water and had an amazing meal of freshly caught fish and vegetables. Shirley and Chris had sword fish. If you haven’t tried it, it’s like tuna steak in texture but with a milder flavour. Their servings were just about the size of a plate. I had sea bass and it took up a similar space, covering the whole plate and then Mary chose traditional Portuguese salted cod. Her portion was enormous too – so much so that the waiter congratulated her on her bravery. The food was all beautiful and we sat sleepily over a coffee for a while afterwards, staring out to the small boats tied up right beside us and trying to believe we were really here.

Poppy plays hide and seek

As we sat quietly enjoying the sunshine and marvelling at the wonderful meal we’d just finished, a Frenchman from another table approached us. Speaking directly to Mary he said, “Sorry to interrupt but I just wanted to say that my wife loves your t shirt and my daughter loves your hair.” Mary was wearing a black t shirt with the words I am a feminist on the front and she has a wonderful red swathe of colour dyed into her beautiful black wavy hair.  He chatted for a while, delighted with himself that he’d picked up that Chris had a Scottish accent, agreed with us that this is a truly beautiful place and that his little daughter is indeed a wee cutie then left to go back to his family. Isn’t it lovely when a total stranger comes up and warmly pays a compliment with no motive other than to be friendly? We’re reminded again that saying something genuine and warm to another person, even a total stranger, can brighten their day more than we probably realise.

Can this be real? View from inside the rocks.

Last night we began our festive celebrations in Katherine and James’ van where they had kindly invited us to soup, cheese and listening to the Messiah. Katherine is a great cook and we were thoroughly well fed with two varieties of wonderful soup, a selection of delicious cheese, a good deal of sherry and wine and a lot of chat. The Messiah played along in the background while we talked about running, yoga, travelling, work, food … you name it, we had it covered. Shirley and I gave in first and wobbled back to our van, fell into bed and hit the zzzzs within minutes. It’s been said that cheese keeps you awake or gives you nightmares – not in this van it didn’t. Ten hours later we emerged sleepily from our cocoon to find to our amazement that it was morning.

Staying here is not all about food and drink and strolling on the beach. The site offers a morning exercise class each day and so far I have made it to two of them. The other girl who stays in this van has managed to wriggle out of both of them. To be fair, she has been in the unheated swimming pool and that isn’t something to sneeze at – oh wait a minute.

She tried to pretend it was warm.

Katherine and I went to the morning stretching class on Monday and enjoyed it. it wasn’t too demanding and we were outside breathing fresh air and looking up at the bright blue sky. Feeling pleased with myself that I could still bend my body I agreed to go with Katherine, Mary and Chris to Yoga / Pilates fusion. This was a whole different experience with the instructions from the trainer asking us to do things that seemed frankly unreasonable for a normal human body. Looking round there were people who really could lie on their stomachs, hold up both feet behind them with their hands, lift up their heads and rock. I could see Mary and she was giving it a good go. I, having given it a couple of attempts, was lying flat on my face giggling.

Chris and Mary are off today on a serious walk up a mountain somewhere. We’re going to stroll to the beach at Praia da Luz and probably have a coffee in a beach bar somewhere. Each to their own.

Our nearest beach – Praia da Luz

24 thoughts on “Are we really doing this?

  1. Merry Christmas to you all!
    Have a fantastic time, so nice to see snippets of the sun via your blog, typical Scottish December weather here ie. dreich! I’m nightshift Christmas night however as I’m sure Shirley can confirm the fab team I work with will make for a good night. All the best for 2017, lots of love & best wishes from the Pauls xxxxx

    1. Thanks Cheryl. Sorry about the weather – we’ve past the shortest day now so there is hopefully better weather in sight for you. We’re so lucky to be here. x

    1. We’re hoping to come up your way perhaps in February Julie. We’ll be slowly rolling home for a ferry crossing in March. That all depends on us tearing ourselves away from here of course.

  2. Yay!! You went!! Isn’t it fabulous! We started going there about 10 years ago, told family and friends and they also started to visit. Last time we were there we felt that it had changed into a more commercial sort of place!! But, looking at your photos transported me back and it looks just the same as it always did!! So glad you like it!! Have a merry Christmas! If you’re passing nearby in March maybe we could meet up!! We’ve just booked our ferry for next year! We’re going to try May, June and a bit of July! And Colin’s already looking at Alvor for September!! X

    1. Thanks so much for the prompt to go there. It is fabulous. Hope you get to visit again next year. We’ll be in touch once we know what day we’re going to be back in the UK. x

  3. When we move, THIS is the weather I MUST have! We have to visit with an immigration attorney upon our arrival next year, but we may be able to spend Jan., Feb., and Mar., in warm weather with the sun shining. Patricia wants to return to New Zealand our first year back so since their seasons are reversed, we’ll get good weather that year. Our move is HUGE, so I’m taking baby steps. Brexit will be in full swing and Trump will have started his reign, so we’ll watch, wait and see how all this sorts itself out. Hollywood couldn’t write this story and it will be interesting and hopefully not too threatening for the world as it unfolds.

    1. We’re loving the light and the clear skies, although it does rain occasionally of course. We’re so fortunate to be able to visit these beautiful places. Thinking of you and Pat as you make big decisions for your future. x

  4. Merry Xmas to you all, don’t over do it (food & drink) sightseeing go for it. Loving your blog and can’t wait to try the traveling one day.

  5. Merry Christmas to you and your family Mags and Shirley.
    It looks a truly amazing place I love looking at your photos and reading about your adventures.
    Hope we can meet up in 2017
    Luv Shirl’s xx (Blossom)

    1. Thanks Shirley, We’re looking forward to catching up with you Flora ladies in 2017. It looks like you’ve all been having a ball. x x

  6. Hi Ladies, thank you so much for taking the time to write your blog, I really enjoy reading it. I often giggle to myself and end up reading your post to my partner. We have been full timing for several months and your blog has certainly inspired us. Thank you! Have a very wonderful festive time.

    Cath & Kelly

    1. Thank you for your lovely message. It’s great to know you enjoy the blog. Happy Christmas and New Year to you both. Mags

  7. A very very merry Christmas to you both. It sounds perfect. I’m loving the fact you’re stepping away from the hell that is the commercialisation of Christmas. I’ve done that now for a few years and I feel free from it, thank goodness. Love reading your blog ladies, it makes me smile from ear to ear. Take good care of yourselves and maybe see you when you’re back? Much love, Karl

    1. HI Karl, Thanks for the good wishes and glad that the blog makes you smile. We’re having a blast. See you when we get back in the spring. Happy Christmas! x x

  8. Great to read about your adventures as always. Hope you enjoy your Christmas although different I am sure will be full of Christmas cheer. Good wishes. Ali x

    1. Thank you Ali. We’ve been playing Boules in the sunshine this afternoon. Very strange! Happy Christmas to you all. x x

  9. Happy Christmas girls!! Sounds like you’re having a ball! Fantastic! Sending you warmest hugs from a chilly Edinburgh. Xx

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