Creatures of the Algarve

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Lesson 3 of living in a van:
Don't leave it until 30 minutes to sunset to try to find somewhere to cook dinner and sleep for the night, when you're relying on a road map that bears 20% resemblance to reality.

West across the Algarve with the intention to stay for a night closer to our next family visit in Loule. Following the map (we still haven't learnt) we thought we'd take the coastal road to try to find a quiet-ish place to park. 'Quiet-ish' and 'parking' don't go together on the Algarve coastal road (duh). After 20 minutes totally lost in traffic, HOT, wedged between hotels and stopping every 3 metres for road-crossing inflatables, we found ourselves at a dead end next to a water pumping station, HOT and in a fucking strop... Rather drive inland and sleep on the side of the main road... There were a few Pine trees on our left with, between piles of dumped rubbish, a path that smelled a bit of the sea.
Leaving the van, the path took us through some more trees and some more rubbish, to a quiet cliff-top between beaches, with tall columns and walls of rock around deep ocean-bottom wells. We picked our way across to the furthest bit jutting into the the sea and watched the sun go down with the fishermen, Azure-Winged Magpies, and the Algarve Party Boats pumping Cascada...


Lesson 4 of living in a van:
Didn't want a bike rack, thought our back door had done enough in life being a door and could do without two bikes hanging from it's neck.

Trying to put two bikes inside the van is like trying to put Edward Scissorhands into a silk box. 

To my Auntie Nikki & Uncle Lennies for another wonderful few days of family catch ups and laughs. They took us for their 'alternative Algarve' tour, which included a huge castle made from mud (much inspiration for our mud house plans), and to Alte to swim in a freshwater spring and a waterfall. We helped pick carobs, ate a disproportionate number of figs in various forms, and sat outside each evening wondering about the traffic light star in the sky.

Auntie Nikki and Uncle Lennie



Along mountain roads to Monchique, a spa town in the forest where mountain spring water is bottled and sold around Portugal. We definitely weren't going to be paying for water, filled our bottles with the spring water coming out of the rocks between trees, and dawdled around the steep cobbled streets, following them upwards, after signs for a convent.
We emerged above Monchique in a Cork Oak forest. Quietly, looking for animals... Angus trying to find a snake. So verrrrry peaceful....
Got that disconcerting feeling when you think you might have just walked through a cobweb... peered down, tarantula (basically) on my top. Ran, stretching my top out away from my body, towards Angus. Quickly realised this was totally hopeless because rather than looking at the bit of me that I was holding out at him, he was looking me in the face and telling me to calm down / stop screaming / keep still etc etc.
Threw off off all my clothes, doing the whole-body-shake-dislodge-the-spider dance.
'OH MY GOD HOLLY, A SNAKE!!!' A BIG green snake which had probably been disturbed by the caterwauling through the undergrowth, slithered huge 'S' shapes past us up the path. Somehow it slithered us to silence, forgot all about the spider, as we followed snakey, so beautiful, along the path and into a bush to the whispered squawks of delight from Angus.



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