It’s the strangest thing but we had a huge sense of freedom as we drove away from Turiscampo and onto the open road. Spending five weeks on a campsite gives a lot in terms of facilities and entertainment but we missed the thrill of the simple life. No doubt there will come a day when we hanker for electric hook up, showers we can use without filling and emptying the tanks and a bar but this wasn’t the day. It was time for a bit of simple living at the motorhome aire in the town of Lagos.
Basic as it is, this motorhome parking facility has become one of our all-time favourites, which is just as well as Boo hasn’t finished with his health problems and we’ve spent much of the last week trotting backwards and forwards to the vet. Boo is 8, which in dog years is late middle-aged. Unlike his human fellow travellers, he can still run for miles and leap twice his own height but his ability to recover from infections is definitely depleted. The poor old boy got yet another dose of gastric upset and he didn’t get better. The vets at the Lagos Vet Centre are wonderful – I mentioned Lars (who looks like he could wrestle a crocodile) the other day but we’ve since found that the other two vets:
- Alex – whose listening skills are extraordinary and who makes you feel like you’re the only person in the world when he talks to you. Boo has a huge crush on Alex … more on that later and
- Miguel – who looks about twelve but is an expert in reading ultrasound scans
are now up there on our favourite people list.
The reception staff are truly multilingual and very friendly and the whole experience is as pleasant as it can be, given that we spent a good bit of our week there. Boo needed blood tests, ultrasound, a barium x-ray and a lot of medication to get him fixed but he’s getting better now. It gave us a fright, especially when he lost a lot of weight in a few days and the vet said: “If we don’t get to the bottom of this there will be no Boo left.” So, we are a good number of Euros lighter and have stayed several more days than planned in Lagos yet we’re still in fine spirits and discovering how much fun it is to be parked up amongst dozens of other motorhomes on the edge of this lovely town.
The Day we Caused our Own International Incident
A few days ago the underwear drawer told us that we needed to do some laundry. There is a laundrette along the main street in Lagos, about half a mile away and we considered using that for a while before deciding that manhandling several bags of laundry was a bit of a challenge. Instead, we set off for Budens, on the way to Sagres, to use the facilities at Intermarché. This is a very popular spot with the motorhoming community in the Western Algarve as they have a carpark especially for the vans where you can wait in comfort for your washing to finish, possibly after going into the shop and buying some goodies to eat with your coffee. I went into the shop while Shirley trotted over to the machines, only to find a German gentleman holding onto the large machine door, gripping a bottle of washing liquid. Other than that there was no sign of any laundry. This was clearly a “towel on the sunbed” kind of affair and Shirley was having none of it. She fixed him with her best midwife’s steely eye and asked him what he was going to put into the machine. “I wait for my wife,” he answered a little warily. Shirley smiled and said, “That’s nice” and promptly put our washing in the machine before he could object. Back from the shops with my goodies and hearing the story I gulped. We had to share the space with a pair of frustrated Germans until our washing was washed and dried. Shirley, on the other hand, was unconcerned and tucked into her breakfast, served with fresh local strawberries and drank her freshly brewed coffee without batting an eyelid. After forty minutes we returned to put the washing into the dryer and found the German couple still waiting patiently. Another tense forty minutes went by and we dashed over to get our dry washing bundled out of their way and into the van. We were just finishing the folding and putting away when I spied the German lady coming our way. I braced myself until she got near enough for me to see what she was swinging on the end of her finger. It was a pair of my pants. I didn’t know whether to thank her or hang my head in shame. She smiled warmly and waved us on our way – as we left I swear I heard them laughing.
Good Friends and Great Socialising
When we first started motorhoming we sometimes felt a bit isolated. We would see couples meeting up to share a bottle of wine or a chat over coffee and we were like Norma No Mates watching on and wondering why we never got an invite. I don’t know what has changed but something has. We are having a great time, meeting lovely people, socialising and enjoying lots of chat – and a fair bit of wine too. We’ve enjoyed meeting up with friends we met in Peso de Regua; Biz and Melanie introducing us to the delights of the bars and cafés in Alvor and enchanting us with their stories of travels all over the world. Time flies by when you’re sitting in a sunny bar chatting with friends like these. Jo and Doug, also of the bar in Regua crowd with their fascinating ‘alternative lifestyle’ of sailing in the summer in France are in Lagos at the moment so we’ve shared a number of lovely meals and beers with them. The other night we met up with them and their friends for dinner at Alex’s – a tiny traditional Portuguese restaurant where good food is accompanied by cheeky witty banter from Alex, the owner. As we made our way through three courses and quite a lot of wine, the conversation turned to the names that people give their boats. We were helpless with laughter at some of them, one particularly funny one being banned by Shirley from inclusion in this blog. Send me a PM if you want to know it. They told us that one boat named ‘Come Quickly’ had to call the Coastguard for help when it ran into difficulty. The radio operator kept saying “What’s the name of the boat?” and they kept answering “Come Quickly” and the radio operator kept asking “Yes, but what’s the name of the boat?”. Another one was poetically christened “Passing Wind” … no further comment required. Not content with this, the conversation then moved on to the disadvantages of having a transverse bed over a garage in a motorhome. The reasons for avoiding it included having your partner’s dangly bits in your face as they climbed over you on their way to the toilet in the night. Be warned if you’re considering buying a motorhome. These things need to be seriously considered.
Here in Lagos, we have made good pals with our neighbour Martin, a solo motorhomer who lives full time in his van. Being a Yorkshireman we felt an instant connection with him and have shared lots of chats and ideas about places to stay. Small acts of kindness pass gently between our two vans, including him moving his kayak onto our parking spot when we have to drive off to go to the vet so that it is still there for us when we get back. Two vans along there is Judy and Steve, who invited us to go out for lunch with them to Lazy Jack’s on the marina and to pop in for drinks in their motorhome. Making friends makes the experience so much richer and we have a fuller social life than we ever did in our house – it is probably stating the obvious to say that we’re having a blast.
Lagos Farmer’s Market
Every Saturday there is a Farmer’s Market at the Bus Station in Lagos. This isn’t anything like the Farmer’s Markets in the UK where very expensive organic vegetables are sold, along with other luxury items. Here, gnarled and weather-beaten local farmers come along and sell their home grown veg and sometimes home-baked bread and local honey. This is one of the highlights of a stay here if you can turn off your Britishness enough to cope with being pushed and jostled by the crowds of locals who come along to buy wonderfully fresh produce and enjoy a long chat with their friends, usually in the middle of a narrow space between stalls. We love it. This week we bought a pile of beautiful vegetables, some local honey and a large bag of olives. Just breathing in the smell of vegetables only taken out of the ground that morning is enough to make you feel super healthy.
A Bit of Solo Motorhoming
Next week Shirley is flying home to Scotland for a medical appointment. She has been on the waiting list for ten months to have a small cyst removed and when we heard that it was her turn, it was obvious that she should fly over and get it done. Who knows how long another appointment might take if she cancelled? She will fly out on Wednesday, stay one night with our friends Morag and George and then two nights with Fi and Dan, our old neighbours and good pals. This means of course that I will be having a taste of solo motorhoming, except of course for sharing my space with two small, attention seeking mutts.
I got a call this morning from our good pals Mo and Ken who offered to come and park up with me while she is away to give me a bit of company and moral support. Aren’t friends the best thing ever?