2020 begins…. .

Well, may I be the last person to wish you all a Happy New Year.  I had it in my head that I would get a blog post out soon after the New Year but, true to form, what happens in my head doesn’t actually happen in reality. So, there we are, late as usual.  Still, better late than never.  It’ll have to be Happy Friday then.

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A perfect day for a stoll on the beach at Monte Clerigo.

After all the rain we’d had the weather bucked up just before Christmas and we basked in sunshine throughout Christmas and the New Year period.  Christmas Day was spent on the beach with coffee and egg sandwiches!  We like to take our simple life to extremes sometimes.

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Christmas Day……….we know how to live!

As a bit of a change, we’d had a couple of trips down to Portimão before Christmas where we stumbled across a Waitrose/Iceland in one of the retail parks.  Alas, they’d run out of Ginster’s pasties but fortunately pork pies, mince pies, custard creams and bourbons weren’t in short supply.

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‘No taste of Cornwall’

On the way back, just as we were coming into Aljezur, we were stopped by the police for a document check.  We often see the GNR on roundabouts or at the side of the road pulling people over to check they’re all legal.  In Portugal and some other European countries you need to have the paper documents in the vehicle ready for inspection should you be asked.   Normally it wouldn’t have been a problem as all the documents for insurance and the like are in a folder in the van.  But, as we weren’t going to be using the van on a regular basis we’d decided to take them out of the van for safe keeping.  So, the one and only time we have ever been stopped in the nearly four years we have been travelling we didn’t have the documents in the van.  It hadn’t occurred to either one of us to take them with us on our little outing to Portimão.  After numerous apologies and fiddling and faffing Tim was able to come up with a PDF document of our insurance which the officer accepted.

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I’d already mentioned the custard creams and bourbons were really daylight robbery compared to the price you’d pay in England but if we’d had a hefty fine as well on top of that it might just have spoilt my Christmas.

img_20191230_145610739_hdrTime is marching on and we’re more than half way through our four month ‘staycation’ here in Portugal.  Following the frenzy of concerts and socials in the run up to Christmas it’s all been quiet for Tim on the band front and I think he’s starting to climb the walls.  I think he’s hankering after a shed where he can do, I don’t know, man stuff.  During our extended stay here we have had numerous conversations about what our ideal life would look like in the future and it turns out a shed cum workshop is high on the list of ‘must haves’ for Tim.  He likes to fix things and there haven’t been a whole lot of opportunities going on in the way of things to fix.  My bike could do with looking at as I think some bearings have gone somewhere on it as it’s started to make a clacking noise as I ride along. I’m sure, if we had a shed cum workshop, the back wheel would have been whipped off by now but, as we haven’t, I’m still clacking along.  Fortunately, there’s some fencing that needs doing at Donkey HQ so Tim will be busy with that for a few days at least.

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Donkey HQ

Several donkeys have been out on various excursions over the last couple of weeks so reinforcements are needed.  Like children, when they get bored they get themselves into trouble.  Over the winter period there’s not so much going on with treks, people coming and going and so on so the donkeys are at a bit of a loose end.

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Sunrise:)

From time to time, if a friend or neighbour offers some grazing land some of the donkeys get an opportunity for a holiday.  Just before Christmas we had a lovely trek of five or six kilometres to drop four of them to a friend’s for a three week holiday.

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Kiko, Flor, Luna and Olivia off on their holidays.

I’m sure they enjoy the change and the opportunity to have a bit of peace and quiet away from the main herd.

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Getting ready for a road trip.

Treks are thin on the ground at this time of year but there have been one or two.  We took seven donkeys out a couple of weeks ago and it was Isabella’s first trip.  She carried the luggage and took to it like a duck to water.  Having had a previous job in agriculture carrying the pack lunches can’t have been particularly arduous for her.

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Isabella carries the luggage.

We dropped the three older donkeys in at ‘donkey day care’ and then continued on into the hills for a two hour trek.

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The three oldies were left at ‘donkey daycare’ whilst the others carried on.

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Donkey parking.

Meanwhile back at ‘Dog HQ’ we’ve continued to take ‘our three’ out three times a week.

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Off to walk the dogs.

 

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Vicky, Barley and Ghee.

Alas there were a few new arrivals over the Christmas and New Year period.

I have my eye on one but Tim says NO!

Ah well there’s still a bit of time yet!

Até logo!

 

 

Boas Festas…. .

A week of rain.  A week.  Still, Portugal needs it after a very dry summer so we mustn’t grumble.  It was just a week.  Not too long.  Just a week.  Seven days.  Actually I lie.  It was really six days as there was one good day in amongst the seven wet ones.  So, six days then.  Not a week at all.

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Grey skies.
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The town car park was closed later in the day as the river kept rising.

 

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Flooded fields.

As we weren’t cooped up in the van it didn’t bother us.  The donkeys were miserable though.  They really don’t like the rain.  They are desert animals after all so who can blame them. They don’t have a double layer waterproof suit so they are susceptible to skin problems if they stay wet for long periods. Normally the older ones go to various different grazing spots during the day (I call it donkey day care) but when it’s wet they’re confined to barracks as that’s the only place where there is any shelter from the rain.  And they get bored.  Sooo bored.  It’s also tricky trying to feed twenty donkeys inside when it’s wet as there isn’t much room and hooves start flying as they jostle for the best positions. 

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Off to donkey day care before the period of rainy weather.
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Happy donkeys.

The donkeys weren’t the only ones who were bored.  When we took the dogs out on Friday they were all absolutely manic.  Not so many volunteers turned up so we went out with our usual three for an hour and then came back to get three more. 

img_20191220_103901172_hdrTrying to get three hyper dogs all booted and spurred ready to go out was no mean feat.  Tim just leaves me to it and waits for me to hand him a lead or two when they are ready.  No chance of him getting muddy. 

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Trying to get these three ready to go out was a trial.

But the monsoon season appears to be over now as we have had wall to wall sunshine for the last couple of days. 

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The first dry morning for several days.
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The warm weather brought visitors.

Meanwhile back at the band Tim has been busy with various rehearsals, functions and festivities.  Food seems to always feature at the various different functions he has played at. 

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Cake!
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Prawns.

A week or so ago they did a tour of four villages doing a short concert at each of them and food was provided at all but one of them.  I received several text messages throughout the day just keeping me abreast of what was going on:  1st concert and meal finished.  2nd finished, no food! 3rd one, on a roll, port and cake! They stopped after that but later he smugly told me that a three course dinner was laid on after the last concert. 

The final concert before the New Year was on Saturday where the band played at a Christmas meal for one of the local banks who had donated some money to buy some new instruments.  A new bass clarinet, timpani, euphonium and glockenspiel have now been added to the bands stable of instruments.

Marvellous. 

So with that I’ll wish all of you ‘Boas Festas’ whatever you are doing and thank you all for reading the blog this year.

Até a próxima!           

Life in the slow lane…. .

The eve of the local Christmas Market here in Aljezur has given me the nudge to remind me that it was about time I updated the blog.  It’s hard to believe we’ve been here for six weeks already.  It’s also quite hard to believe we are nearing the Festive Season as it’s much more low key here.  There are some lights up here and there around the town but if you’re like me and don’t go out much after dark then Christmas could pass you by which is exactly how I like it.  My former work colleagues would attest to the ‘bah-humbug’ I used to be (and still am) at this time of year.  Secret Santa?  No thanks.  Work Christmas do? Not for me.  But here I do like to go to a few of the local events so we’ll be heading on over to the Christmas Market later on today.

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The old town.

Aside from that we have established our routines here with our various interests.  The Banda Dos Bombeiros Volunários de Aljezur has welcomed Tim with open arms.  A seat was rustled up, music was printed off, a uniform sourced from the depths of the store cupboard, and voila, you’d never know he wasn’t Portuguese.  Principally the band is made up of young people between the ages of twelve and twenty six but they didn’t seem to mind or notice the age gap.  The band is bank rolled by the fundraising efforts of the Bombeiros (fire brigade) and seems to be very active within the local community.

img_20191116_152809951_hdrThey were joined by two other bands a couple of weeks ago for a Festival of bands where the three bands marched through different parts of the town followed by a concert.

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img_20191116_192603665December 8th was a procession in Monchique, twenty miles away, for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception with a coach laid on to get the musicians to and from the town.

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The Procession through Monchique.
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The price of living with less stuff………tatty walking boots instead of polished black shoes!

fb_img_1575883140800The film ‘Brassed Off’ came into my mind.  If you haven’t seen the film then I’d recommend it.

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After the concert waiting for the bus.

Then tonight there will be a concert at the church in Aljezur.  Starting at 9.30pm.  9.30pm?  Everything seems to start late here. Me, I’m normally getting ready for bed at that time but I’ll make an exception tonight and support it.

As for me the donkeys continue to keep me busy three mornings a week.

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A rainy day at Donkey HQ.
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They really don’t like the rain.

We had two new arrivals a couple of weeks ago.  Pasquale, an elderly donkey, was in need of a home and a chance at a comfortable retirement.  He worked in agriculture in his previous life so he can now enjoy a bit of down time in his later years.

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Pasquale looking forward to a retirement now.

Isabella came with him but she is much younger so will hopefully make a good trekking donkey with a bit of time and training.  She’s a big girl of some sort of Spanish origin and she’s bigger than nearly all the males.

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Isabella takes a roll AFTER I’ve just brushed her and made her look pretty!

They were both pretty nervous to start with but after a few days began to trust their new humans and I think they now enjoy the attention.

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Pasquale, Isabella, Romano, Margarida and Mocco off to the neighbours for a days grazing in one of their fields.

img_20191116_103903148As for the dogs? Well, there are about forty or so of them and they are reliant on the volunteers if they want to get out for a walk three days a week.

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Brody……..a big softie.
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Shanna.

Generally there are enough people but some days have been a bit thin on the ground so we’ll take two or three for an hour or so and then go back for two or three more.

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Lisa and Jackson.

As I knew would happen, one of them is going to break my heart.  I knew it as soon as I clapped eyes on him.  He’s a scruffy young Pedengo (Mediterranean hunting dog) and he has stolen my heart already.

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Vicki, Ghee and Barley.  Barley is the heart breaker!

He’s not ready for rehoming yet as he is still really nervous of people but we can see a change in him with us since we’ve been taking him out as he seems much more relaxed and content with us now.

img_20191115_112500482Tim keeps reminding me that three is a crowd.

I can safely say that I won’t be getting a scruffy Pedengo for Christmas then!

Até a próxima.

Settling in to routines…. .

Ok, so we felt we needed a break from vanlife to remain in one place for a while.  But what are we going to do during our static four months with so much time on our hands?  Certainly this lifestyle we have has given us the luxury of time.  Time to do as we please, live our life on our own terms and pick and choose what we want to do and what we don’t want to do.  I can’t deny it’s a super luxurious position to be in and it’s one we try not to take for granted.  Having so much time though also throws up a few challenges.  At least for me.  Tim is a much more laid back, live in the moment, don’t analyse it kind of person.  Me?  I can analyse something to the nth degree and then some!

I’m not talking about boredom here.  I’ve never been bored on our travels.  Yes, there have been times where I’ve felt flat, frustrated or cooped up during prolonged periods of rain but I wouldn’t say I’ve been bored.  I’ll always find something to do.  Pottering. It’s one of my favourite things to do but I’m not yet quite of an age where pottering about ALL day is fulfilling enough.  Maybe in a year or two;)  For me, the amount of time we have on our hands is more a question of purpose.  Throughout our travels I’ve always been plagued by the ‘P’ word.  Or maybe there’s a bit of guilt thrown in there too.  Drifting around from place to place with no end game in mind can, for me, feel a bit like I have no purpose.  I think I’m just the kind of person that needs a bit of structure and a ‘why’.  It was one of the reasons we had decided that as part of our travels we would do some volunteering.  We viewed it as a chance to meet new people, learn new skills, experience different lifestyles and ideas and generally make a difference to someone.  It was also a chance to have a focus for a while.

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Painting the railings of the village War Memorial whilst on a Helpx in France in 2016.

It can be difficult to have a focus when you’re moving from place to place for an extended period of time.  It can also be difficult to justify what we are doing.  Lots of people nowadays take a midlife gap year which is totally understandable. Take a year or so out, explore, recharge and then pick up from where you left off.  People can understand that.  But take off with no idea of how long you’ll be gone for or if you’ll ever go back to a conventional life is a bit harder for people to take in.  If we meet people and get into a discussion on our current lifestyle we have occasionally had the awkward question of ‘yes, but what do you do all day’? If I’m honest it’s not an easy one to answer without sounding a bit lame.  It generally goes something like this: ‘Oh well, you know, we walk a bit, maybe go for a cycle, plan where to go next, sort out emptying and refilling the van, read, erm, go to Lidl, volunteer a bit, erm, you know, erm, stuff like that’.  You see.  Wishy washy and lame.  You can see in people’s eyes they don’t really get it and are probably thinking we’re just a bit work shy.  I think it’s partly an age thing as if we were in our late sixties or seventies I don’t think anyone would question what we do with our time.  You’ve earnt your retirement so live it large and put your feet up.  Or maybe it’s just my own perception of things.  I don’t know but it’s not always easy to justify what we do with our time and where it all goes. But it goes.  And very quickly too.  Filling the time whilst on the road in the van is pretty easy though as you’re constantly stimulated by new sights, different landscapes, a changing set of neighbours, the odd challenge and hundreds of questions going through your head about this and that.  Filling the time in one place though is a bit different.

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Where does the time go?!

So, after nearly seven hundred words I’ve still not answered what we’ll be doing during our extended time here.  Well, for Tim one of the biggest sacrifices he made when taking on this lifestyle was leaving behind the music scene where we lived.  Music IS a huge part of his life.  HUGE.  He’s had to adapt to not being able to be a part of several bands.  He hardly played at all in our first year away but in the last two or so years he’s adjusted to playing solo.  In an ideal world he’d want to be playing in several bands but playing solo has been a compromise.  Over the last three weeks he’s been busy making contacts and putting out feelers to get into something here and/or start something new.

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The compromise…. .

For me I have the donkeys!  I’m spending a few mornings a week cleaning up after them and generally enjoying some donkey time.  Mucking out wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I find it quite therapeutic and of course I love spending time with the donkeys.

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Sunrise over Donkey HQ after a wet night.

One of the things I wanted to do when travelling was to learn a new language or two.  I’d dabbled in French on and off since 2016, did a few months of learning German when we were in Germany and then promptly forgot it all again and ditto last year for Spanish.  Unfortunately, spending an extended period of time in a foreign country doesn’t mean to say you miraculously absorb the language.  Alas, it takes consistent time and effort.  Consistency had never been my strong point regarding languages.  Or anything else for that matter but this lifestyle has forced me into creating a few routines as I know I feel more content if I feel I have achieved something each day whether that be physical or mental.  At the beginning of this year I set myself the challenge to improve my French and I’m glad to say, even though I’m not yet where I want to be with it, I have made some mprovement.  So a consistent effort at continuing to improve the French and learning some Portuguese will be a feature of my day too.

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Time for a cup of tea and a French podcast.

Then we have some dog walking to do.  The AEZA refuge is a non-profit association taking in stray dogs and cats.  Three days a week volunteers are welcome to walk a dog or two.  Tim unwittingly gave me the idea when he said ‘I don’t think it would be a good idea for you to do the dog walking at the dog refuge’.  As a dog lover and having had four of our own dogs in the past he knows I have a weakness for them but when our last one went to the big kennel in the sky in 2013 we agreed we would have a period without the responsibility a dog brings. I’ve done pretty well in sticking to it.  It took all my resolve not to take home half a dozen strays from Greece a couple of years ago.  But, the dogs need walking and I have time on my hands so it was a fait accompli.

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I don’t normally do selfies but needs must………………Gwen enjoying her walk!

I just have to hope I don’t fall in love with one…………or two.

Até já!

We’ve said our goodbyes to Donkey HQ…. .

Ok, so the last time I updated the blog Christmas was upon us.

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Watching ‘White Christmas’ on Christmas Eve.  What can I say?  It’s a tradition for Tim!

I seem to have lost six weeks somewhere.

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Christmas Day picnic on Amoreira beach.

Where it went I couldn’t say.

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A trip to the circus at Monchique with our friends Di and Chris.

But there is no denying that it has gone.

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A very low key New Years Eve in Portimao.

Christmas and New Year are but a distant memory and we are now firmly into February.

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I’m going to do a short post today.

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One of many swims in December and January.

It has to be short.

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Tim found some new musical friends in Aljezur.

If I don’t get a post out today and breathe some life back into this blog it may well expire before my eyes.

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There’s nothing like a good roll to start the day off right.

It’s difficult to write a blog post after a gap of being incommunicado.

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Okami, Mel, Falco, Emil, Luna and Flor swapping news after a coupe of weeks apart.

My memory and attention span are limited.

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Flor and Luna returning to donkey HQ after a little holiday with a Dutch family who live in the hills nearby.

The previous weeks at Donkey HQ passed by so quickly it is hard to believe we spent eight weeks there.

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Xiquito ready to carry the packed lunches for a two hour trek.

We said a sad goodbye to our host and our charges over a week ago after experiencing many great days with them under warm sunny skies.

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Time for some relaxation on a two hour trek.

And some not so warm sunny mornings.

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It went down to below zero overnight for most of January but the days were into the twenties.

We’ve taken treks and trips.

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Kali loaded up with the recycling.

Some have worked out…………………..some haven’t!

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Tim loaded up with the recycling after Kali refused to go further than the Donkey HQ perimeter!  I think the writing was on the wall in the previous picture.

Jojo and Filipa, two young inexperienced donkeys, made a successful day trip to the beach under the guiding hooves of Xiquito.

 

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A days trek to the beach with Xiquito, Filipa and Jojo. (A training day for Filipa and Jojo who are young and have much to learn).

There really is never a dull moment when looking after them.

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Trekking through Rogil village on the way to the sea.  It took Jojo (middle one) a while to pluck up the courage to go over the pedestrian crossing – the stripes fazed him for a bit!

They all have their own personalities, friendships and foibles and it does take time to get the measure of their individual ways.

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It was a sixteen kilometre round trip.  The young ones had to cope with marauding cows, barking dogs, cars, lorries, traffic lights, bridges, a busy road and a river crossing.

It’s been a great learning experience though and I hope to be able to spend more time with donkeys in the future.

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Taking a well earned break on our days trek.

Of all the animals we have looked after on our travels (cats, dogs, sheep, alpacas, pigs, cows) donkeys are definitely my firm favourite.

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The donkeys relaxed whilst we went down onto the beach.

It’s not all been donkeys though.

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Vale dos Homens beach.

We hired a car for three weeks and made the most of the beaches on the wild Atlantic coast.

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The coast at Carrepeteira.

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We captured the lunar eclipse at the beach at four o’clock in the morning.

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The total lunar eclipse seen from the Atlantic coast of Portugal on 21st January 2019.

And then it was time to get back on the road.

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Praia da Marinha beach.

Tim spent the last week or so back at Mikki’s campsite on the Algarve whilst I made a fleeting visit back to the UK to see my parents.

But tomorrow it’s time for pastures new.

We will miss Portugal.

But Spain awaits.

Até qualquer dia!

 

Week three with the donkeeees…. .

Time is running away with us here at Donkey HQ.  I can’t quite believe it’s been three weeks since we arrived.  It feels like only yesterday. And Christmas is now upon us.

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This way to the donkeys……..

We’ve had another action packed week.  Well, as action packed as it gets for us!

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Mel and Mina…….I think!

Music has featured again with a trip last weekend to see a saxophone player at Moagems, a funky café in Aljezur.

P1140795 (1).JPGWe were left home alone with Kerstin, our roomie and fellow volunteer, to look after the donkeys whilst Sophia took a road trip with a friend for a week accompanied by two of her long eared companions, Kiko and Xico.

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Xico gets loaded up for his roadtrip.

We waved them off but met them the following day to hand over Florin, Sofia’s dog.

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Sofia,Carla, Xixo and Kiko ready for the off.

Florin loves to trek with the donkeys but he couldn’t stay at their planned overnight accommodation for the first night.  He really wasn’t impressed he’d been left behind and had to be put inside for the afternoon lest he followed in the donkey’s hoof steps.

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Florin not impessed he can’t go too.

We took a quick side trip to Odeceixe beach for a spot of yoga and a swim before meeting up with the donkeys.

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Odeceixe beach.
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Beach yoga.

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Florin joins day 2 of the trek.

Meanwhile back at the ranch I tried my hand at some clay modelling on Mimi’s legs.  Mimi is a natural victim.  The other donkeys don’t like her and can be mean to her, the dog sometimes snaps at her legs and even the wasps and flies have a good old go at her legs causing open sores.  To combat this she has clay slathered over her lower legs to try to stop the flies getting at them.

P1140842.JPGIt seems to do the trick.

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Tada……….the latest in donkey fashion.

Even though Mimi seems to be a natural victim in the animal world she most certainly isn’t when it comes to people.  You have to watch her.  Give her an inch and she’ll take a mile.  And she can move when she wants to.  Despite the ungainly look of her she’s quick and you do have to keep one step ahead of her.  She’s so friendly and cheeky that you can’t help but love her though.  We’ve taken her for a walk a few times and once she’s stopped looking for Romano and gets into her stride she’s a pleasure to take out.

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Jeko and Mimi……….don’t be fooled they’re not friends.  

Meanwhile away from donkey care we’ve discovered the woodburner has space in the top to cook a few baked potatoes.

P1140850.JPGIt’s a real treat having a woodburner here and we love our evenings by the fire.  All the other rooms are freezing mind!

Kerstin flew back to Germany to spend Christmas with her family so we couldn’t let her go without cooking a traditional English meal for her.  Toad in the hole, mash and onion gravy washed down with a bottle of Prosecco. Pastel de natas followed accompanied by homemade Medronho schnapps.  Perfecto!

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Kerstin’s last evening before flying back to zero degrees in Berlin!

Christmas is much more low key here than in the UK but there are signs around the town that it is alive and well.

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All made out of recycled materials.
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More music at Moagems.  It was billed as Fado with a difference.  Absolutely brilliant it was too.

It must be Christmas.  We had a surprise present tied to our front door earlier by our friends who are staying at the campsite outside Aljezur.  Thanks Di and Chris 🙂 Proper job!

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Ingenious wrapping paper.

Tim is playing some Christmas music on his clarinet in the room next door whilst I write this.  So, I guess it’s time then for a bit of mulled wine and to say thank you to all of you who read this blog.  We wish you all a very Happy Festive Season wherever you are.

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More news from Donkey HQ next week.

Saùde!

Feliz Natal e Feliz Ano Novo!

We’re back at Donkey HQ…. .

Well, our first week back here at Donkey HQ (aka burros & artes) has flown by.  We were last here two years ago and coming back we wondered if we would feel the same about the place as we had back in 2016.  We had intended then to stay for about three weeks but ended up staying eight as we enjoyed the whole experience so much.  When we arrived we left the van at the bottom of the hill and walked up to the top of the drive in the sunshine smelling that fragrant Portugal smell.  And there they all were.  The long eared ones.  How happy was I to see them all?!

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Meeting some of the donkeys again after two years away.

I’m in donkey heaven.  I can’t really explain what it is that I find so appealing about donkeys.  I love that they’re not too big.  The hang-dog expression that they so often put on.  The hee-hawing.  Those silky long ears.  That they can be stubborn.  That they are definitely cheeky.

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Mimi thought she’d join us for morning coffee.  She was later in the day caught red hoofed in Sofia’s fathers polytunnel.  He was not amused.  But you’ve gotta love her!

I’m a fan of terriers even though they can be difficult sometimes and donkeys seem to share some of the same traits.

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Note to self: Don’t leave your jacket lying where a donkey can reach it.
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Donkey HQ.

It’s great to be back here and we (I say we but it’s more me really) have been spending time reacquainting ourselves with the eleven that we already know and getting to know some new ones.

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Yay, we were soooo happy to see Romano is still here.  He’s well into his thirties and the oldest donkey here.
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And look at Kali now………..he should be renamed Kurli!
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Here he was two years ago a few weeks after he’d arrived.  He’d had a good home and was very affectionate but his owner was ill and could no longer keep him.

Seven of the nine new ones are brown and to my untrained eye look like identical septuplets.  After spending the last week with them though I am beginning to be able to tell them apart but I’m not quite there yet.

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Romano and Jeko.  Jeko now has arthritis in his hip so he needs extra care.

Anyway, the long suffering readers of this blog will know all about where we are but for any of you new readers who are wondering what all this donkey thing is about I’ll just get you up to speed with a quick recap.  Sofia, our host, who owns the donkeys runs different donkey trekking tours mainly throughout Spring, Summer and Autumn.  Anything from a two hour gentle walk along the beautiful tracks surrounding donkey HQ to multi day treks along the Rota Vicentina on the Atlantic Algarve coast.

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A neighbour moving some of the manure.

This is no cash cow business though.  Sofia is passionate about and cares deeply for her donkeys.  Many are elderly.  Others have come from poor beginnings with ‘issues’ that only time, care, love and patience will improve.

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Kali’s previous owner taught him to do this.  He’s just lovely and one of my favourites.

So we’re here to help in the day to day care of the donkeys, do a bit of maintenance and generally help out wherever help is needed.

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Mucking out.

This week has been a busy one.

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Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho…………….

Sofia was offered the loan of a large piece of land three kilometres away big enough for half a dozen donkeys to enjoy a vacation.  It was mostly fenced but Tim and I spent a couple of days repairing some areas, clipping back vegetation which interferes with the electric fencing, creating an entrance and generally making sure the whole area is donkey proof.

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The morning commute to work.
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Cutting down the vegetation and repairing the original fence.

The two families who will be looking after the vacation donkeys came down to Donkey HQ yesterday and we all walked them up to their new holiday home.

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There was much excitement when the families came down armed with carrots.

Flor, Luna, Kiko, Olivia, Xiquito and Emil will stay in their new home for a few weeks at least.

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How can you not love them?
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The vacation donkeys going to their holiday home a few kilometres away.

One of the amazing things about the area around Aljezur is the sharing of skills, the helping of neighbours and the exchange of goods.  For example, the French neighbours came to collect a trailer load of donkey manure in exchange for three big bags of carrots.  It’s only fair.  The donkeys produced it so they get paid for it in carrots.

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Tim fixed up the donkey HQ bike for Kerstin (another helper) and in exchange Kerstin cooked dinner!

Whilst we were fixing up the fence for the holiday donkeys we met Dan, a yoga instructor who has been living on a friend’s piece of land in his camper van for several months.  He invites people to join his free yoga classes to share his love and knowledge of yoga.  It’s a kind of gift economy whereby no money changes hands.

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He invited me to join their morning yoga class.  How could I refuse an opportunity like that?  I left Tim to the rest of the fence and spent an hour throwing out some shapes on a yoga mat with two other would be yogis.  And hallelujah, I managed to touch my toes for the first time in probably thirty years.  Later on in the week I’ll gift them something in return.  I haven’t thought of what yet!

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Kerstin and I doing a spot of yoga in the garden.

It’s certainly an eclectic mix of people living in the area with many cultural, music, art, dance and theatre events to get involved with.

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A cool vegetarian restaurant in Aljezur called Moagem.

We are loving being back.

 

 

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It’s not all work!

More news as it breaks from Donkey HQ next week 🙂

Ate  mais tarde!