European Escapades

Archive for May, 2010

Attack of the Killer Ants

23

May

2010

Morning comes to the van as the sun rises over the treetops surrounding our campsite. The small trickle of light slowly increases until shafts of brilliant sun are warming our toes through the window and onto the light bed sheet we use as our cover against the odd mosquito that may stray into our domain. As the light streaming through the window starts to hit my still closed eyelids, my brain triggers in recognition and I am awakened to the morning sun as I am most mornings. Bleary eyed I perceive Missy who is always sitting by our feet looking out at the birds and other interesting movements that seem to occur at this time of day. An itch on my arm distracts me for a moment and I remember the odd feelings of Mosquitoes during the night, but they couldn’t be, as we normally hear the nasal drone as they pass above our heads. A little black spot, like a bit of fluff or dirt is in my hand and at first I don’t recognise it.

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Always Trees and Always When You’re Tired

22

May

2010

Moving down the coast from ‘Lagoa de Melides’ we decide to split the journey between here and Sagres the eastern most tip of Portugal. I only hope that the place has no affinity to the cat’s piss of a fizzy pop beverage of the same name that the Portuguese try to pass off as a lager. But more to come on the beer dessert we have here in this area of the world, as I do have one small sparkle of sunlight to share. Only a small glint of sanity but it was my only recourse and was a far cry from anything remotely available in Spain. But back to our story and our journey from a happy camping experience to utter hell. We leave ‘Lagoa de Melides’ on a hot day and around noon and head off to our first of two available campsites via the back roads along the coast. We pull into the first site only to be confused as it seems our Sat-Nav has taken us to a construction site as opposed to our chosen campsite. As I start checking the directions Frances spots the camping site sign and points it out to me, it seems we are actually in the right place, but you would not have believed it. The reception seems open and as we turn into the site another campervan is pulling off and out onto the main road. You can never tell with these sites and we decide to check it out as we thought that we may get a discount.

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TiTbiTs

21

May

2010

Can you grab my sausage darling?

No Problem, OHHhh, it feels so different touching real skin instead of the artificial stuff I’m used to…

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Heading for Cork on the Portuguese Coast

19

May

2010

a grove of cork trees
A Grove of Cork Trees.

Regretfully we finally leave Serpa and head for our next port of call which is Beja. Not a town on our list for a tourist visit, although as you approach the City you can’t fail to notice the 13th Century Torre de Menagem, the keep of the original castle built by Dom Dinis. But we were there for the large shopping complex near the campsite and the mobile phone shop within, that was to provide us with our internet access for Portugal. Whilst it is not a great deal, TMN does provide a dongle to allow connection to the internet for €25 a month with a 1GB limit. But it is Prepay and you do get access to all of the PT hotspots within the country for free, with unlimited download. The process of purchasing was harder than my time in Llelida, as the girl spoke no English and my Portuguese was non-existent. But I finally walked out of the shop with a modem firmly in my grasp ready to experience the delights of TMN and banda larga. Seems this new fangled OS software Windows 7 is new to Portugal and its national telecom company as of May 2010 and support for it is rather poor.

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TiTbiTs

18

May

2010

It’s a sad day when I am choosing to drink water in preference to beer, but the water tastes better in this desolate wasteland devoid of decent pint.

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Language Learning Technique or Poor Product?

18

May

2010

I know it’s our blog, but that doesn’t stop us from asking you guys for feedback does it?

I am trying to think how I need to pose a question I have in my head and cannot seem to express myself very clearly, so I guess I will ramble a little and maybe in doing so I will in the end be able to form a comprehensible question around the issue I have.

When I first started learning Spanish 6 weeks ago, I started by buying BKYI deluxe 4 as a starter program as I like the flip card and picture association. But as I get better at Spanish, by listening to my growing collection of DVD’s Music CD and audio books and ANKI (Thank you for the pointer Ramses) as an immersion technique, I am finding issues with some of the translations within the BYKI program.

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Nana P Diary Part 7

16

May

2010

Hi Baby Jessica,

Now we are in Portugal, again one thing came to my mind to remind me of you and to tell you about it. No big deal, but my thoughts were with you and I could almost see you in my mind. We parked outside a children’s nursery so Grumps could walk to the Library to try his internet access which, didn’t work. Anyway being stopped outside the nursery, I saw loads of very young children going for a walk together with their teacher or minders. Some of them were as young as 12 months old and were tottering along on their new found feet all dressed in same coloured smocks and holding hands to stay together.

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The Magic of Serpa

15

May

2010

a beautiful welcome to portugal
A Beautiful Welcome to Portugal.

We leave Seville on a Sunday and wonder as we head out of Dos Hernandas via the ring road, whether we should have looked for a petrol station before leaving town. Our lack of knowledge of the town and the thought of a service stop along route won over and we leave Seville behind us. The further we got away from the town the bleaker it looked as we saw no signs for services and fifteen miles out the red light finally comes on the dashboard, blatantly telling us we should find petrol. Tapping the TomTom for gas station POI’s, I note one a few kilometres on and sure enough as we come around a curve in the highway we spot a Repsol sign towering high above the landscape just off of the next junction. Pulling off we find an open petrol station ready to serve a full tank of diesel to us. Why I wonder do we seem to wait until the last minute to fill up with petrol? It seems a bad habit with me anyway and whilst it may be a fairly safe thing to do it the UK, the distances in Spain are that much larger and the Spanish still closed on Sundays. Make a note to oneself, fill up when you get to a quarter of a tank, it’s a lot less of a worry than hunting for an open petrol station in an area you don’t know.

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The Sanitisation of Britain’s Meat Eaters

14

May

2010

The classic Irish Crubeens, but no cabbage
The classic Irish Crubeens, But No Cabbage.

A slightly off topic post, but one that I feel needs to be mentioned. I love to cook and as such enjoy the local shops, markets and supermarkets that I visit looking at all the wonderful ingredients on offer. I have come to realise that the supermarkets in the UK have been sanitising our shopping experience to the detriment of our children. Walking around the supermarkets of France, Spain and Portugal, I have already mentioned the beautiful array of seafood on offer. But I also want to advertise the beautiful array of meats and other produce I have seen on offer as well. Like the heaped snails on the local market stall in Spain, slowly moving around in their large container, scooped up and packaged fresh by the market holder for the eager customers. The dressed and presented cow tongues and sheep heads ready for purchase and the lamb brains neatly placed on show within the meat counter. The tempting crayfish snapping and crawling around, as fresh as they could possibly be. The hanging poultry and whole rabbits on show as if they had just been butchered fresh for consumption.

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Seville is Not Just Oranges

10

May

2010

parque de maría luisa
Parque de María Luisa.

For our foray into Seville we stayed in Camping Villsom in the small town of Dos Hermanas. It was the nearest we could get to Seville and be able to obtain a bus into the town centre. We arrived early and parked right near reception to take advantage of the free WiFi in the campsite. One of upgrades that we will be investing in for the van, will be a high gain directional antenna. This will mean that we will have more choice on pitch locations and still gain use of the local free WiFi when it’s there. I will keep you updated on that as we progress. The campsite was just off of the busy main road heading to Seville and to get to it from the south we had to come off the dual carriageway, around a roundabout and use a nice overpass. It felt like the magic roundabout going around in so many circles, but at least in doing so we passed the busstop and so knew where to catch the bus into town the next morning.

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