I’m sitting here looking out over the inlet at Praia de Faro. There is a huge parking area here that is popular with motorhomes and it’s extra popular with me for two reasons. One is that it is by the runway at Faro airport and the other is that I’m parked up close to Mo and Ken who have come along to keep me company while Shirley is away.
Having them there made my first night sleeping alone in the van much more peaceful. The close proximity to the runway isn’t as horrifying as it sounds. Faro is a small airport and the planes, mercifully infrequent at this time of year, stop at around ten in the evening and don’t begin again until a reasonable hour in the morning. As Shirley’s flight took off the other day, we stood on a small hill and waved her on her way then turned around and looked out towards the Atlantic Ocean.
There is a short walk from here, over a bridge and on to a small island where a couple of coffee shops and a huge white beach can be found – absolutely all a girl could need for a few days. My only complaint is that there are mozzies here and one of them has bitten my hand, making it swell and itch to a degree completely out of proportion to the bite. Antihistamine tablets and cream plus hydrocortisone cream as recommended by Spanish pharmacists haven’t reduced the swelling or the itch so I’m taking my irritation out on the dogs by swearing at them. They just look at me with a slightly confused expression and go back to sleep. This brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘therapet’.
Travel Broadens the Mind – but not always
There is a real sense of community amongst motorhomers and people are generally helpful and understanding when meeting their fellow travellers. Our good pal Ken has gone the extra mile for us, fixing a broken locker catch and cooking a BBQ last night. He pops by to make sure I’m okay when I’m not in their van being spoiled. Mo has fed and watered me, walked the dogs with me and generally been a good pal, listening patiently when all the words I normally use in a day chatting to Shirley flow out into the air in random order and with even more random lack of sense.
Some people you meet however are well-meaning but intensely irritating. We have met two recently. The first one we named “You know what you’re doing wrong” because that’s what most of his sentences began with. I’m sure he meant well but he stood beside us while we were at the service point and gave us the full dose of his wisdom, wrapped neatly up in a bundle of patronising advice. I believe the modern term for this is mansplaining. “Oh no, you have a small leak from that hose, look at it spraying out from the connection. You know what you should do …” Did he think I hadn’t noticed the small spray of water that had shot up my arm and into my armpit when I turned the tap on or that I wouldn’t notice it again when I leant over to turn the tap off again? The temptation to turn the hose on him was hard to resist. The words, “Oh dear I didn’t notice 100 litres of water coming out of the end of my hose and drenching you from head to foot – how silly am I?.” But I didn’t of course, choosing instead to grunt and ignore him. But he wasn’t finished with us. He went on to helpfully explain every small detail of the basic management of a motorhome, droning on until we had no choice but to just drive off as a small queue had gathered at the service point.
But it isn’t just the men who deserve the Basil Fawlty Award for stating the bleeding obvious. We were on a different service point in a completely different place the other day (details have been omitted to protect the innocent … ) when a British lady decided to give us the full benefit of her knowledge of absolutely everything. When Shirley said that she was flying over to the UK for a couple of days for a medical appointment she gave her a full and completely unnecessary rundown on what to take, how to cope with check-in and how she needed some cold remedy because she was sure to catch the flu on the plane. Shirley has flown around the world more than once so a flight to Scotland wasn’t going to faze her but this lady cared not one jot. After completing her pre-flight checks she went on to give us thorough instructions on how to park on the motorhome services, pointing out that we would have been better reversing in. She then pointed to a muddy puddle near my feet and said: “Don’t step in there dear, you’ll spread it all over your van”. I laughed, I couldn’t help it. Then I bit my lip because the following comment was desperately trying to get out, “Oh my, I’m so glad we met you. I’ve been on this earth more than 60 years and I never knew that stepping in a muddy puddle and then going inside would spread the mud around. Thank you so much.”
So, here is my advice to all the ladies and gentlemen out there who are tempted to assume that two lady motorhomers require help with the basic management of the van and need the benefit of your wisdom, please stop it. It drives us nuts. Like many other sentient beings, we are capable of asking for help when we need it. There, I told you I was grumpy didn’t I?
Alvor and the Question of where to park
It took us a while, thanks to Boo’s love affair with the vet, to move on from Lagos and on to Alvor. We managed just two nights there before heading to the airport so we really couldn’t do the place justice. You have two options for parking in this lovely little seaside town; one is the official aire where motorhomes park for 4.50€ a night including services, the other is an unofficial parking place right outside the aire. We opted to stay on the official site because we needed to have full water and empty waste and toilet ready for my three days parking at Faro beach. The aire at Alvor has an excellent service point but the owner, whose life’s work seems to revolve around stopping the free parkers from using the services when he isn’t looking, turns them off when he’s having lunch and again when he leaves at 5 p.m. I get it that he doesn’t want people to use his services for free but it is a pain in the neck when you realise at 5.15 p.m. that you need fresh water and he has turned it off. The other downside to this particular motorhome parking is that it is on hard packed orange sand and when it rains it is a quagmire. When it’s fine and just as the sun starts to set, everyone’s skin takes on a peculiar reflected orange glow that looks as though we are all suffering from liver failure. I hope the owner comes up with a better solution to protecting his service point from people who haven’t paid the fee but in the meantime we have decided, on our return, to stay in the free parking and use the free services at Intermarché. At least you can get water whenever you need it there. Judging by the number who opted for the free parking, we will not be alone.
Alvor is very, very pretty and has one of the best beaches in the Algarve, with the wonderful rock stacks at one end. It also has numerous fresh fish restaurants, coffee bars, Indian and Italian restaurants and a couple of sports bars. Wifi is free in most of these places – a wise business move as motorhomers are forever looking for fast free wifi so they’ll pay for meals or snacks in order to get it. If you’re planning a visit, the wifi in the Sports Bar is as fast as a fast thing. This makes watching, or not watching, football bearable for those of us who fail to understand its appeal.
Boo and his Men Friends
Boo is turning into a grumpy old man – he like his own way and can get quite snotty with Poppy if she doesn’t do his bidding. Boo also likes men. When he is in the company of a man he likes, his grumpiness disappears. He sidles up to them and bats his eyelashes at them, sometimes even going so far as to sniff their personal places in an embarrassingly appreciative manner. I mentioned the other day that he has developed a crush on Alex the vet. Normally, taking Boo to the vet isn’t much fun for him or for us as he tries to place as much space as possible between himself and the vet’s hands, especially if they are covered in latex gloves. Alex, of the outstanding people skills has obviously got similarly outstanding canine communication skills and Boo was helpless to resist his charms. Each time we took Boo back to see him, his crush grew stronger until he was jumping up and down on the spot with excitement when Alex called his name.
We’ve always thought that Boo’s affection for men was because he’s a lone male in an all female household, until the other day when we were drinking coffee outside a café on the sea front. The dogs were sitting patiently (ish) by our side until the waitress brought them some water and gave them a little affection. Poppy lapped up both the water and the affection with her usual enthusiasm but Boo remained, as usual, a little aloof. Moments later a young male waiter came out and offered Boo a little stroke – he was transformed into a ball of curly delight, sniffing and nuzzling the young man with ecstatic devotion. The waitress laughed “Ah, I see your dog is gay.” We laughed with her, a little sheepishly. Of all people you would imagine that we would have thought of that. However, the sorry truth is more likely to be that he is having vague and fond memories for the things that were removed when he was six months old. Say no more …
Shirley is coming home … hooray!
Today is the day when Shirley flies back to Faro. Her minor procedure to remove a cyst from her back went well and she is in fine fettle. By 6 p.m. she’ll be back on our little home on wheels and we’ll make our decision about where to go next on our wee adventure.
Till the next time …