Friday, April 29, 2016

A Polite Letter of Request

Dear Winter,
Let’s get straight to the point. When are you leaving? You said you’d only stay from November until March and then you’d move on to the Southern Hemisphere. It’s now almost May and you’re still here. Don’t get me wrong it’s been fun! December or January would not be the same without you. However, everyone's a bit tired of your snow and cold temperatures, and if you don’t leave then Spring can’t move in and Spring is a bit concerned that they won’t have a place to stay before Summer arrives – if Summer arrives. So if you don’t terribly mind leaving… that would be good. You are of course welcome back in November but this time maybe don’t bring so much rain.
Yours sincerely,
The UK

By Catrin Hughes
Youngest son's partner

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

RIP Victoria Wood

One of my favourite British comedians...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Projects I Still Haven't Got Round to Doing

Lately I seem to be thinking more and more of the things I want to do before I die. In particular I want to make some sense of all the photographs I have -- especially of past generations. I have pretty well organized those of the present -- into albums and computer files. But I have hundreds, probably thousands of old photographs. And I would like to make a written record about some of them.

Yesterday would have been my mother's  97th birthday and so I began a photo album of her that I should have started a long time ago. Well, it's a beginning...

Paris 1945
However, there is a much bigger project that I must stop putting off and get on with -- my father's war letters to my mother. They are all in tact and all in their original envelopes. What is interesting to me about them is his account of what he was doing -- sometimes what he was up to! So much of what I know about World War II is newsreel accounts and historical documentation. Movies try to give you a flavour of what life was like for the soldiers. but his first-hand account is a very personal one describing a lot about what he  'got up to'!

So what I want to do is make the letters available to other members of the family. And I wonder how best to do this. Should I scan them and print them off into some kind of book. Should I type them up as well and make both part of the chronicle?

Best to get started, methinks. But not now -- dinner's on and blogging takes up time  and there goes another day! And I still haven't finished with Portugal... Not to mention French studies, brushing up on Italian and final alterations to the new kitchen...

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

ABroad in Portugal: Getting My Bearings

Welcome to the Algarve, Portugal. The distance from the most southwestern point in continental Europe to the Spanish border is just over 100 miles. And from the most south eastern point of the Algarve to the border town of Alcoutim is about 24 miles. Apart from one excursion to the west of Faro all of our February adventures were in the eastern part of the Algarve, in Spain and in Gibraltar.

Cabanas has more than a touch of the old Portugal

. In 1755 a Tsunami and Earthquake destroyed most of the ancient Moorish towns and villages in the Algarve. Cabanas is an old fishing village just outside of the old city of Tavira. Although Tavira is very modern and built up, the old city is quite charming and pretty along the river. Although we did no spend much time there, we did do most our grocery shopping in the outskirts -- a mere 3 kilometers from the caravan site. The evening after we went to Barril Beach, we headed into Cabanas for a meal. The speciality of the Algarve being fish and seafood and I chose sea bass. The men opted for a mixed grill of various cuts of meat. I don't remember much about their meals except that The Man had far  more than he expected!

My sea bass came 'butterflied' and was a beautiful thing to behold. It was delicious, but very bony. It seems to be a traditional way the Portuguese serve sea bass as it was prepared the same way on the one other occasion I ordered it.

What I loved about eating out in Portugal is that the food was always dependably delicious, simply prepared and fresh. And the wine we found to be very drinkable! I discovered 'vinho verde' which has a lower alcohol content and a lovely light taste. So going out to dinner one had good unpretentious food with as much wine as you would want to drink with the bill for two people seldom going over 30 euros and often just over 20! My stepson had told us that when they stayed in Portugal they ate in one night and out the next. I can understand why and next time we will not stock up on so much food to prepare ourselves!

The other thing that must be emphasized is how welcoming the Portuguese people were. We had discovered two local restaurants in a small village near to the caravan. Twice we showed up well after 9 o'clock -- barely hoping they would be open and willing to serve us. No problem -- they happily served us with friendliness and good cheer.

The Algarve east of Faro is less spoiled by modern villas and touristy apartment buildings than the western side of the province. However, that is not to say that modernity does not abound. However, the old ways and traditions seem to have remained more in the area than the wealthier more affluent areas to the west of Faro.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

ABroad in Portugal -- Warm Beginnings

February 1st we flew to Faro, Portugal from Liverpool. I had not been to Portugal before and was looking forward to some warmer weather and more sunshine that the UK in February usually brings. My stepson has a mobile home in Cabanas, about 8 miles from the Spanish border, on the Algarve coast. We were to stay there for the month of February.

Indeed it proved to be much warmer than the UK with daytime temperatures generally reaching the mid teens centigrade to the low 20's. (mid 60's to low 70's F) The first week was one of the best with lots of sunshine. My stepson stayed with us for the week and so we were able to get a good feel for the place and to find some of the best beaches. In fact The first day we went to a place called Barril Beach, which was absolutely magical. We parked the car by the salt marsh and took a walk across a footbridge to a train station in what seemed to be the middle of no where. Within a few minutes a train the like of which I'd never seen before trundled up. We bought three very cheap tickets and boarded an open carriage.

The Man, who is a bit of a railroad buff, was not sure what to make of the engine -- it was meant to look like a steam engine, but definitely was not. Perhaps when the trains were  originally being used to transport workers to the tuna fish factory, which is no longer, the engines looked like this. The train runs for only a few miles over quite beautiful salt marshes ending up at the sea. There is also a path along the tracks for those wishing to have a pleasant walk that isn't too challenging.

At the end of the track we came to a short board walk onto a beautiful sandy beach right on the ocean. What a treat it was to be able to sit in the warm sun and unpack our sandwiches on the 2nd of February with the surf in the distance and a blue blue sea!

There is much more to write about -- but I think I will eek it out for a while!